Monday, 3 October 2016

Total trade ban for Gibraltar's monkeys agreed

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, Johannesburg
28 September 2016

Europe's only non-human primate, the Barbary Macaque, has gained the highest level of species protection at the Cites meeting in Johannesburg.

While about 200 live safely on the Rock of Gibraltar, they are experiencing rapid decline in their natural habitats in North Africa.

Hundreds of infants are illegally taken from the wild each year for European pet markets.
Countries banned any form of trade in the species.

The Barbary Macaque seems to specialise in isolation. It's the only African primate species north of the Sahara and the only macaque species in Africa.

Experts estimate that there are between 6,500 and 9,100 Barbary Macaques in fragmented populations strung across Morocco and Algeria. They were categorised as endangered in 2008 as their numbers plummeted by 50% in 24 years.

While destruction of habitat is a significant cause of their decline, another important factor is illegal trade. 

About 200 infants are taken from the wild in Morocco each year. Some are used as photo props for tourists in North Africa. Most are bought by Europeans wanting to raise them as pets. 

In Morocco, the animals sell for up to 450 euros each. In Europe they can fetch 2,000 euros.
"People actually think it will be a suitable pet, it isn't, it's horrible," said Rikkert Reijnen of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Image copyright SPL Image caption The Gibraltar macaques are popular with tourists
"They need a lot of attention, they basically wreck your house and as they grow older they start to follow their natural behaviour, which is sometimes aggressive."

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