High Price of Macaques May Lead to Extinction

The price of a wild long-tailed macaque has gone up tenfold over the last few months, reaching nearly $70 at markets in northeastern provinces—leading to massive catches that may soon provoke their extinction, wildlife experts said on Thursday.

Whether the monkeys captured by hoop-net traps are being sold to Cambodia’s macaque breed­ing farms or smuggled ac­ross the country’s porous borders is unknown, said Seng Teak, country director for the World Wide Fund for Nature.

“Whatever the reason, we see the price of macaques increasing every­day,” he said, “It’s a big concern to us…. If it continues, the mac­aque, which is a common species in Cambodia, will go extinct.”

Trade or sale of the long-tailed macaque—listed as a “globally near-threatened” species by the International Union for the Con­servation of Nature—is permitted as long as the trade is “highly regulated.” But in recent months, wild­life traders have paid more and more villagers to catch long-tailed macaques, wildlife experts said.

Four primate breeding farms lo­cated in Kandal, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom and Takeo provinces have been lic­ensed by the Ministry of Agri­culture and authorized to ship mac­­aques overseas to medical re­search centers.

Neou Bonher, permanent de­puty of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Re­serve secretariat for the Ministry of Environment, confirmed that there is poaching in protected areas for the purpose of supplying those farms.

“Villagers say they are not selling directly to the farms but to middlemen,” he said. “I plan to visit two of the macaque farms next week to see where their stock is coming from.”

Minister of Agriculture Chan Sa­run said on Thursday that he has not heard any reports about droves of villagers capturing monkeys. “We just give the license to a few companies for breeding,” he said.

Seng Teak urged the government to establish a “clear process” that would  regulate the capture of wild macaques for the farms. “There is a network, obviously, set up to harvest the macaques but we don’t know how it works,” he said.

 

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