“In several populations over the past 10 years we've seen a reduction from a couple of thousand to a couple of hundred. That's the intensity right now: a tenfold reduction over only 10 years.”
China, previously the world’s biggest exporter of live primates, stopped trading wildlife internationally in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in a bid to prevent the spillover of zoonotic diseases. Cambodia stepped in to feed that demand, dominating the global monkey trade and swiftly overtaking China as the world’s biggest supplier.While in 2019 the country exported 13,922 live monkeys, that number spiked to nearly 29,500 in 2020. More than two thirds of these were sent to the U.S., hundreds of which were wild-caught, according to data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, supplied by Sarah Kite, co-founder of advocacy group Action for Primates. Data for 2021 is expected to be released in November of this year.The problem, according to Hansen, is that Cambodia doesn’t have nearly the same number of captive-bred specimens as China—meaning the Southeast Asian nation, which is a habitat country for the long-tailed macaque, is far more likely to be relying on wild-caught animals to supplement its exports. Hansen said she and her fellow researchers are observing an increase in the number of long-tailed macaques being captured from the wild in Southeast Asia. Others have similarly raised concerns around the feasibility of facilities breeding the number of monkeys being exported, and the possibility that increasing numbers of wild specimens are being trapped and then “laundered” through farms.
“The most brutal incident involved the killing of one captured male. Beaten down with a pole, the dazed and injured animal was dragged by his tail.”