Action for Primates
The following are news releases for 2023. See elsewhere for news releases from other years.
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.