Action for Primates
The following are news releases for 2023. See elsewhere for news releases from other years.
Index of news releases; select date & title to access:
8 September 2023: UK government announces crack down on online animal torture content
Action for Primates has welcomed a government announcement that it will crack down on animal torture content online. In an amendment, to be tabled ahead of the Online Safety Bill returning to the House of Commons next week for the final consideration of MPs, social media companies will be forced to remove any content that encourages or facilitates animal torture.
Sarah Kite, co-founder, Action for Primates:
We are gratified that government is taking online animal torture seriously. This should be a turning point in ridding social media platforms of the horrifying and disturbing content involving the torture and killing of animals for online entertainment.
This dissemination of animal torture content online is a widespread and growing problem that involves unimaginable cruelty to individuals who are deliberately abused and tortured for online 'entertainment'. In particular is the shocking and perverted underworld of 'monkey torture groups' involved in the sadistic treatment of baby monkeys. Videos posted online have included baby monkeys having parts of their body cut off or their bones broken; being crammed into small jars of water; and others where the infants' eyes were drilled out with a power tool or their arm was ripped off.
A recent BBC investigation uncovered 'global monkey torture rings', where hundreds of people meet online to discuss and pay for extreme torture to be carried out on baby monkeys in Indonesia and other Asian countries. The BBC documentary, 'The monkey haters' (1), demonstrated the shocking escalation in extreme animal cruelty content that is now widely available online, and highlighted the use of social media in a global monkey torture ring producing, sharing and selling online monkey torture content, spanning from Indonesia to the United States and the UK. The documentary received worldwide attention, including reports on the arrest and release under investigation of three people in the UK, suspected of being members of a monkey torture group involved in the production and distribution of animal abuse content on social media. This put the UK in the spotlight and demonstrated the shocking escalation in extreme animal cruelty content that is now widely available on social media platforms, and easily accessible by children and vulnerable adults.
According to the Government announcement, animal torture content will now be classified in the Bill as a priority offence, bringing it to the same class as other types of content like child sexual abuse, threats to kill, and revenge pornography that social media companies will be required to remove or face fines.
We are grateful to Baroness Merron, Baroness Hayman and other peers for pushing to have animal cruelty content specifically included in the scope of the Online Safety Bill.
Over the past two years, Action for Primates has been working with US animal protection group Lady Freethinker to investigate monkey torture groups. We have also joined with other animal protection, wildlife and anti-trafficking organisations from the UK and across the globe, including the Wildlife and Countryside Link and the Asia for Animals Coalition (SMACC), to push for animal cruelty content to be brought within the scope of the Online Safety Bill.
For further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) BBC documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fx_RttkSIzA
2 August 2023: Hundreds of wild-caught monkeys exported from Indonesia to the USA during 2022 for testing laboratories
Action for Primates, a UK-based non-human primate advocacy project, has condemned the export of hundreds of wild-caught long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) from Indonesia to the USA for research and testing during 2022. The export has come to light following a Freedom of Information request submitted to the US authorities, which revealed that in 2022, the USA imported 990 long-tailed macaques from Indonesia, including 870 who were wild-caught.
In 2021, the government of Indonesia allowed the capture and export of wild long-tailed macaques to resume. This was despite widespread global concerns about the inherent inhumanity of trapping wild monkeys and increasing awareness of the vulnerability of the conservation status of this species. Hundreds of wild monkeys were subsequently captured, torn from their natural habitat, family and social groups. Since this resumption of wild trapping, the conservation status of the long-tailed macaque has been increased to Endangered with a decreasing population trend by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (1).
In 2022, Action for Primates released harrowing video footage of the capture of wild long-tailed macaques in Indonesia (2). The footage provides compelling evidence of the cruelty of the trappers and the suffering caused to the monkeys. This included brutal capture methods and violence against the monkeys, the forced separation of nursing infants from their mothers, and the beating and killing of unwanted individuals (3). Such brutal and inhumane treatment is a clear breach of international animal welfare guidelines (4).
Sarah Kite, co-founder, Action for Primates, stated:
Action for Primates is calling on the US government to dissociate itself from this extreme cruelty by banning all imports of monkeys from Indonesia. We are also urging the Indonesian government to stop the capture and export of wild monkeys for use in laboratories and to enact legislation that offers protection to the indigenous long-tailed macaque population.
Nedim C Buyukmihci, V.M.D., University of California, stated:
Capturing non-human primates from the wild is unquestionably associated with substantial suffering. The handling and treatment of the monkeys is brutal and inherently and inexorably inhumane, and a clear breach of international animal welfare guidelines. There is no such thing as 'humane trapping'; the trapping of wild monkeys must end.
Long-tailed macaques are indigenous to Indonesia, part of the rich and diverse ecosystem, contributing to the country's unique biodiversity. The species, however, is not protected under Indonesian law and, in addition to the capture and export for the global research and toxicity testing industry, its wild populations face many other threats, including hunting for human consumption; capture as 'pets' or to be used in tourism and 'entertainment' activities, including the disturbing rise in baby macaque abuse videos filmed for broadcast on social media; and killing due to negative interactions with people. Long-tailed macaques are the primary non-human primate species used in regulatory toxicity tests, which is the area in which most non-human primates are used. Toxicity (or poisoning) testing is carried out to assess adverse reactions to drugs (or chemicals), often involves substantial suffering and death.
Action for Primates is a UK-based project that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates globally. Action for Primates raises awareness about the plight of and threats to non-human primates around the world and works to end their exploitation, whether in captivity or in the wild. Action for Primates Web site: https://actionforprimates.org/
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Methods of Capture:
The capture of primates from the wild is challenging and potentially dangerous for the animals. Inexperienced handling can lead to significant morbidity and mortality for the animals. Methods used to capture and handle primates, which vary widely between species and countries, should always be humane and cause minimal stress. Institutions should ensure that anyone trapping primates is adequately trained and competent in humane methods of capture.
Capture methods should not render animals, or their troop members, unduly susceptible to injury or death.
Any animal injured should be given first aid and, if seriously injured or obviously diseased, should be humanely euthanized. For most primates, the most appropriate method will entail sedation followed by a lethal injection of an anesthetic. Under certain emergency field conditions where this is not possible, the quickest and most humane method of euthanasia may be a gunshot to the brain, with or without prior sedation. This should only be done by someone trained in firearms safety and familiar in primate anatomy to ensure the correct placement of the projectile.
21 April 2023: Animal Protection groups from the US, India and Europe unite to urge Mauritius Prime Minister to release 446 confiscated monkeys
Animal Protection groups from the US, India and across Europe, are appealing to Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, to release the 446 long-tailed macaques who were confiscated by the authorities in March 2023, following the uncovering of an illegal trade in monkeys for the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. The organisations include PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the world's largest animal organisation, with more than 9 million supporters, and Wildlife SOS in India, one of the largest wildlife organisations in SE Asia. Together with groups across Europe Action for Primates (UK), One Voice (France), LAV (Italy), ADDA and Abolición Vivisección (Spain) and Doctors Against Animal Experiments (Germany) they are asking for compassion to be shown to these wild-caught macaques by returning them to the wild where they can reunite with their families.
The monkeys, who are currently reportedly being held at the Biosphere Trading facility, one of Mauritius's six primate export companies, face an uncertain future after being seized from appalling conditions in disused buildings in Jin Fei. There have been disturbing reports that the individual responsible for the capture and captivity of the 446 monkeys, has submitted a formal notice to the Ministry of Agro-industry and is trying to have the animals returned to him, in what could become a tug-of-war with the monkeys suffering in the middle. There are concerns that, after everything the monkeys have been through and suffered following their forced removal from their habitat and family and social groups, they could end up being returned to the person they were confiscated from, or be handed over to one of the macaque supply or export companies in Mauritius, to be used for breeding or exported directly to laboratories. The animal protection and wildlife groups are also calling for information to be released on the current situation and housing of these 446 macaques, urging the authorities to allow a visit by a representative from an animal welfare group to the facility where the monkeys are being held.
Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, primatologist at PeTA, stated:
More than 28,000 (https://support.peta.org/page/50908/action/1?locale=en-US) PeTA supporters have contacted authorities in Mauritius, asking that an immediate, thorough and transparent investigation be conducted and that a representative of an animal protection group be allowed to assess the condition of these endangered long-tailed macaques. Allowing any individual or company to illegally abduct long-tailed macaques from their forest homes brings us one step closer to eradicating this entire species from the planet.
Muriel Arnal, president of One Voice:
These 446 macaques saved from illegal trafficking must be released, and not sent to another farm specializing in animal experimentation in Mauritius, even if it were legal! Long-tailed macaques are endangered on the IUCN Red List. They must be allowed to return, free, to nature, and not be used as materials for laboratories in Europe, where more than a million European citizens have asked for these cruel methods to be stopped (ICE Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics), and where 74% of French people declare themselves in favor of a ban on animal experimentation (IPSOS/One Voice poll of April 2023).
Sarah Kite, co-founder, Action for Primates:
There is widespread global concern over the capture of wild monkeys, especially because of the cruelty and suffering caused by the forced removal of the animals from their natural habitat and family groups. Yet, in Mauritius, this inhumane practice continues and wild monkeys are captured for export to laboratories as well as for breeding facilities. These 446 long-tailed macaques have already suffered enough, and we appeal to the Prime Minister to order their release back to the wild where they belong.
The trade in long-tailed macaques in Mauritius has expanded in recent years, including an alarming revival in monkeys captured in the wild to be exported to non-human primate processing companies and laboratories in the US. Mauritius exported almost 12,000 macaques in 2022, including over 7,000 to the US, and almost 2,500 to Spain which has now become Europe's main importer of macaques from Mauritius. Most of the macaques exported to the US and Europe are destined to be used in controversial toxicity (poisoning) tests, one of the cruellest areas of animal testing and one that involves substantial suffering as monkeys are dosed with various drugs or chemicals to see if they cause illness. Monkeys surviving such tests are usually killed for further study.
Mauritius prides itself on being a paradise holiday destination, yet the appalling suffering that is inflicted upon our non-human primate cousins is at odds with what is presented in the glossy holiday brochures. The international reputation of Mauritius continues to be tarnished by its role in in the brutal global trade trade in monkeys' lives.
For further information, contact Sarah Kite: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Action for Primates https://actionforprimates.org/; PeTA (US): https://www.peta.org/; Wildlife SOS (India): https://wildlifesos.org/; One Voice (France): https://one-voice.fr/; LAV (Italy): https://www.lav.it/; ADDA (Spain): https://www.addaong.org/es; Abolición Vivisección: https://www.abolicion-viviseccion.org/; Doctors Against Animal Experiments (Germany): https://www.aerzte-gegen-tierversuche.de/de/
15 February 2023: Monkeys Still Being Chased, Filmed, and Harassed in Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, Cambodia Macaques in Angkor Wat, a popular tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site, are continuing to be harassed by people who film them for views on social media, as revealed in new research by Lady Freethinker, Action for Primates and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia.
Following an investigation and appeal to APSARA National Authority in Cambodia and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to stop the inhumane, unlawful exploitation and harassment of troops of wild long-tailed and northern pig-tailed macaques living at the Angkor Wat temple complex, Cambodian officials made an announcement in October 2022. In the statement, APSARA acknowledged the negative impact that feeding of the monkeys was having on their welfare and public safety and urged people not to feed or have contact with the monkeys. They also stated they would take legal action against those who commit crimes against monkeys and other wildlife at Angkor Wat.
However, videos uploaded to YouTube and Facebook since that announcement show that the situation has not improved with monkeys continuing to be fed, given cartons of drink, picked up and carried, relentlessly pursued, forcibly separated from one another, and continuously followed and filmed, even though Article 49 of the Cambodia Forestry Law strictly prohibits harming and harassing wildlife. Footage also shows that the irresponsible trend of abandoning monkeys raised in captivity as 'pets' is increasing, which puts those individuals at great risk of injury or death.
A video compilation of the continuing abuse can be found here: https://vimeo.com/798852217, and a report here: https://actionforprimates.org/public/archives/afp_take_action_2023.php#20230215.
Nina Jackel, founder and president, Lady Freethinker stated:
The footage is clear video operators continue to harass the macaques for the sole purpose of 'entertainment' and making a profit. It's crucial that Cambodian officials live up to their promises and take legal action against anyone who harms these magnificent animals.
Sarah Kite, co-founder, Action for Primates, stated:
For the sake of the monkeys and the safety of the public, we urge APSARA to fulfil the pledge it made, and intervene to stop this inhumane, unlawful persecution and exploitation of the macaques at Angkor Wat. A strict ban on people interacting with and feeding the monkeys must be enforced.
Shaz Daisy Torrance, Stop Monkey Abuse Asia, stated:
We are calling on APSARA to enforce the law, which is currently being ignored by video operators, at Angkor Wat. In particular, the treatment and abandonment of former 'pet' macaques in the temple complex is cruel and inhumane. They deserve freedom and a chance to return to a life in the wild.
Action for Primates, Lady Freethinker and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia have written again to APSARA and copied UNESCO.
Here is a petition urging the Cambodian authorities to fulfil their promises and do more to protect Angkor Wat's macaques: https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-stop-macaques-from-being-terrorized-in-angkor-wat-for-social-media-views/
26 January 2023: Primate protection group appeals to Governor Baly to abandon plans to kill monkeys on Sint Maarten
Action for Primates, a UK-based project that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates globally, is urging the Governor of Sint Maarten to abandon its plan to kill the entire population of vervets (African green monkeys), believing that such drastic and inhumane action will not only be ineffective, but it will also tarnish the reputation of Sint Maarten as a popular Caribbean holiday destination.
A letter has been sent to His Excellency Governor Ajamu G. Baly by Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, co-founder of Action for Primates and a veterinarian with many years practical experience working with non-human primates, including reproductive control, as well as advising on education and humane methods of resolving issues related to negative interactions between people and non-human primates. In the letter, Dr Buyukmihci points out the inhumanity of the capturing and killing of hundreds of vervets, as well as the ineffectiveness of using such lethal means to resolve the issue of conflicts between the monkeys and people. In particular, he noted:
It is stated that the vervets in question will be trapped and killed over the next three years. But, as this is being done over this length of time, there will be an increase in pressure for the vervets to reproduce. It is almost certain that there will be a surge in births, increasing the number of individuals.
Regardless of the timeline, however, given the Sint Maarten terrain, it is highly unlikely that every vervet will be captured, allowing those remaining to continue to reproduce.
There is also the issue of vervets residing in neighbouring French St Martin. There will be nothing to keep them from expanding their range into Sint Maarten.
Instead, Dr Buyukmihci advocates the adoption of measures that can be taken to humanely reduce the negative interactions between vervets and people without having to resort to killing the vervets, and provides a comprehensive review of the issue. Considerations for non-lethal resolution include reproductive control such as sterilisation combined with education programmes to help the public deal with and prevent negative interactions with monkeys.
Rather than dismiss vervets as a 'pest' or a nuisance and killing them, Action for Primates appeals to the government and communities of Sint Maarten to adopt a humane approach to the situation. The fact that vervets are non-native is irrelevant. Not only have they been on Sint Maarten for over 400 years, having been brought there by people, and are now part of the ecosystem, they are living, sentient individuals who share many of the important characteristics we value in ourselves. They experience pain, suffering and distress similarly to people. It is not their fault that they are there and they should not have to pay for this human-caused problem with their lives. With the globally growing acknowledgement of the negative impact human activities are having on the planet and its inhabitants, it is more important than ever that we reassess the way we not only treat non-human primates, but how we humanely resolve negative interactions.