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Tanzania's Baboon trade

Tanzania's Baboon Trade

Revealed: The BUAV investigates the international trade in wild-caught baboons for research.


In 2000, the BUAV investigated the international trade in wild-caught baboons for research. BUAV investigators travelled to Tanzania to infiltrate the primate supply network. We uncovered evidence of wild baboons being kept in shocking conditions prior to their export to laboratories around the world.

Our footage revealed the appalling treatment inflicted on these highly sensitive and sociable animals. Sold for as little as $12 each (£8) by the trappers, these primates are then sold on to the international research industry for up to $1200 per baboon (approximately £800).

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Shocking discoveries

At one holding station for Zainab Wild Market, on a dirty, run-down site, BUAV investigators found baboons kept in the most shocking conditions. In fact, the conditions were some of the worst ever seen during the years that the BUAV has been investigating the primate trade.

These proud and powerful animals, who live in the wild in large, highly structured groups where social and physical contact is of great importance, were instead incarcerated individually in rows of small, dark wooden dilapidated crates, poorly constructed with bits of wood nailed together and broken wire.

Some had wire floors. There was little evidence of any water or food. Some of the baboons were unable to even see each other let alone find comfort in the company of each other. Adult male baboons can weigh between 17-37kg yet forced to live in these cramped and appalling conditions the baboons were unable to stand at full height and could barely turn around. Many peered nervously out of the small piece of wire at the top of the crate. Others, clearly petrified, cowered and tried to hide as they were approached.