Hunts Said To Threaten Monkey Populations

Villagers have captured thousands of wild monkeys from Cam­bo­dia’s northeastern forests this year, potentially threatening both the monkey population and the forests they live in, officials and wild­life experts said Wednesday.

Some were captured and sold to monkey breeding companies, and others were illegally smuggled across the border into Vietnam, officials said.

Kratie provincial Governor Kham Phoeun said the Ministry of Agri­cul­ture issued a license for the Gold­en Chi­na company to catch 3,000 long-tailed macaques in his province.

“They cooperated with villagers to catch them,” he said.

Tong Hul, the governor of Kra­tie’s Sambor district, said the company showed him a government li­cense allowing the capture of monkeys in the province and in neighboring Stung Treng province. Local villagers trapped hundreds of monkeys for the company in Jan­u­ary and February, but the numbers  have slimmed since officials intervened in March, he said.

Tong Hul said the captured monkeys were being stocked at a facility in his district and then sent to Kom­pong Thom province for breeding.

Golden China, which is located in Kom­pong Thom’s Kompong Svay district, houses thousands of monkeys on a three-hectare complex where they are bred for med­ical re­search under supervision of the Ag­ri­culture Ministry. It is illegal to ex­port wild macaques, but monkeys bred in captivity can be legally sold abroad.

“There are still some people catching [monkeys] in the forest,” Tong Hul said, adding that a single an­­imal weighing between 1 to 2 kg is fetching around $50.

The crude techniques used to cap­ture the monkeys are destroying forest and killing monkeys, said WildAid an­­imal husbandry specialist Nick Marx.

One of the methods is to isolate ma­caques in a tree or small group of trees, then cut down the forest around it and surround the trees with nets, Marx said.

The tree in which the monkeys hide is then chopped down and the monkeys caught in the nets, he said. “Depending on the size of the tree, it’s fairly obvious that you’re go­ing to have casualties.”

Suon Phalla, enforcement expert for the Cambodian secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, said that hiring untrained villagers to scour the for­est for monkeys is illegal.

“The company has to collect the monkeys with forestry officials,” he said.

Neither Golden China nor Ag­ri­culture Ministry officials could be reached for comment on Wednes­day.

Snuol district deputy police chief Koan Lav said that there were few monkeys living in his area, though he said it was still a major transit point for smug­gling into Vietnam.

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