November 23, 2008 / 8:34 AM / 11 years ago

Animal rights group slams Cambodia monkey trade

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - An animal rights group says Cambodia is flouting international conventions by allowing the cruel capture of monkeys for research in the United States and China.

An undated handout picture taken recently by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) shows a recently caught wild infant monkey in a forest in Cambodia. REUTERS/BUAV/Handout

A report to be released on Monday by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) says thousands of long-tailed macaque monkeys are taken from the wild each year and kept in cruel conditions before being exported.

Thousands more are raised on monkey farms in conditions so far removed from nature that they are traumatized for life, it says.

While the long-tailed macaque is not endangered, the group says the unregulated trade is already having an effect on population numbers and leading to a degrading of Cambodia’s jungles.

“People around the world will be shocked by the findings of the BUAV investigation and to learn of the suffering inflicted on Cambodia’s monkeys,” said Michelle Thew, chief executive of the organization.

“At a time when there is growing international concern over the plight of primates, we urge the Cambodian government to protect its indigenous macaque population.”

Apart from humans, the macaque is the world’s most widespread primate and includes 22 species ranging from Africa to Japan.

They are highly intelligent and adapt well to living in urban areas where they frequently earn a love-hate relationship with locals on account of their mischievous ways.

The report says nearly 10,000 monkeys were exported from Cambodia last year — mostly to laboratories and primate dealers in the U.S. and China.

International conventions discourage the use of captured wild animals for research, preferring second-generation breeding stock instead, but BUAV says this is widely ignored in Cambodia.

The report said as many as eight out of 10 macaques trapped in the wild died before reaching the laboratory as a result of poor treatment, handling or trauma.

The BUAV has called on the Cambodian government to better regulate the industry and to ban the capture of wild animals.

It also urges the U.S. and European Union to prohibit imports of captured wild animals and to press for better conditions at monkey breeding centers.

Writing by David Fox; Editing by Bill Tarrant

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