Statement, 17th November 2022:
Exploitation levels, and here especially the trade for laboratory research, threaten the survival of the long-tailed macaque. During the pandemic, the demand for long-tailed macaques in laboratory research increased, which sparked habitat-countries to increase exports of the species.
Yesterday (16 NOV 2022) the USFWS released news of the indictment of several government officials from Cambodia and leaders of a research and breeding group from Hong Kong regarding the illegal laundering of wild-caught long-tailed macaques as captive bred https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/cambodian-officials-and-six-co-conspirators-indicted-taking-part-primate-smuggling
We are extremely happy to see indictments happen and we believe this is very positive news for the long-tailed macaque. However, we believe to truly conserve the species, we need to focus on reducing the demand. This means targetting the people/institutions that order the macaques and ensure they take responsibility for their actions, and reduce their reliance on non-human primate research subjects.
The long-tailed macaque faces many threats and it will take a global effort to ensure its survival in its native habitats, where it provides a crucial ecological and cultural service to wildlife, nature and people.
See the IPS, International Primate Society, recommendations regarding use of primates in biomedical research, HERE.
Tackling a Global Threat Head-on
While the international trade in all primate species has been regulated since the ratification of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the legal and illegal trade in primates remains a significant threat to primate species throughout Southeast Asia. In a 2010 survey conducted by Shepherd on primate trade in Indonesian wildlife markets between 1997 and 2008, long-tailed macaques were found to be the most heavily traded primate species. The long-tailed macaque is also the predominant species in the international trade in live primates for research. From 2008–2019, at least 450,000 live long-tailed macaques (captive and wild-caught), and over 700,000 specimens (a broad-ranging term that can include tissue or blood samples, body parts or hair) from an unknown number of long-tailed macaques were part of this trade, with over 50,000 identified as wild-caught (specimens and live) (CITES Trade Database 2021). The global demand for live macaques for biomedical testing and related uses inevitably provides incentives to supply this market, likely with substantive consequences for local populations of macaques. Furthermore, animal welfare may be compromised at breeding facilities since they lack systems to ensure they fulfill minimum welfare standards. Renewed interest in harvesting wild-caught long-tailed macaques in countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines may not be sustainable, and research into the population status and attempts to mitigate these conflicts should commence as soon as possible.
The LTM Project will spearhead an investigation into the current trade for biomedical and commercial purposes in long-tailed macaques by contacting organizations, companies and governments involved in the trade to gather non-published data regarding trade numbers, non-detriment findings, captive breeding production plans as well as annual harvest and export quotas through online data collection. We also want to develop a clearer and simpler way of reporting trade numbers through CITES, where actual numbers are reported and import certificates created at the same time as export certificates, also within trade regions such as the European Union. When assessing legal international trade amounts, national trade amounts should also be assessed and incorporated to ensure international trade numbers do not exceed longtailed macaque population capacity.
Adapted from Hansen, M. F., Gill, M., Nawangsari, V. A., Sanchez, K. L., Cheyne, S. M., Nijman, V., & Fuentes, A. (2021). Conservation of Long-tailed Macaques: Implications of the Updated IUCN Status and the CoVID-19 Pandemic. Primate Conservation, 35, 1-11.
Hansen, M. F., Gill, M., Briefer, E. F., Nielsen, D. R. K. and Nijman, V. (2022). Monetary Value of Live Trade in a Commonly Traded Primate, the Long-Tailed Macaque, Based on Global Trade Statistics. Front. Conserv. Sci. 3:839131.