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The Macaque Report: Indonesia’s Unprotected Primates

Among Indonesia’s spectacular array of wildlife and its many primate species, two species of macaque are exploited with particular intensity, and neither are protected under the nation’s wildlife protection legislation.
Over the past several decades, both long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and Southern pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) have been repeatedly uplisted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, first to Vulnerable, and now both species are considered to be Endangered.

Because these charismatic macaques are skilled at making their living in environments dominated by humans, they can appear to be superabundant. News reports from across their range repeatedly refer to them as “gangs”, “thieves”, and “marauders.” Indeed, when human food and crops are easy to access, these resourceful and clever monkeys take advantage of the situation. When they do so, negative interactions with people can occur. In the face of this, it is no wonder that some people, organizations and authorities habitually regard them as “pests” or as plentiful resources. Once labeled as such, they are treated accordingly, and macaques are killed in
great numbers, or trapped and sold into long and miserable lives as pets, performers or subjects of biomedical research. And since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, animal protection organizations and researchers have noticed an apparent uptick in the exploitation, with ever-more visible online cruelty content, more wild capture and an increase in export for biomedical purposes.

This report examines the different ways in which long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques are being harmed, both as individuals and as populations, in a country in which they also hold deep cultural and historical significance. It examines interconnections between issues, and importantly, offers suggestions for ways in which the situation for Indonesia’s macaques can be improved.

The Asia for Animals (AfA) Coalition comprises a core of 25 well-known and globally respected animal welfare organizations, supported by a network of hundreds of additional animal welfare, environmental and conservation organizations from around the world. All share a common goal: to improve the welfare of animals across Asia.

The AfA Macaque Coalition brings together animal advocates and primate specialists from diverse organizations and backgrounds. All advocate for the welfare of macaques worldwide. In this report, Macaque Coalition Member Organizations pool their vast expertise to examine the array of particularly intense exploitation to which Indonesia’s macaques are relentlessly and cruelly subjected, and present strategies to mitigate the ecological and individual harm that results.

Action for Primates; Animal Concerns Research & Education Society; Animal Friends Jogja; Animal Protection Denmark; Animals Asia Foundation; Animals Don’t Speak Human; Born Free Foundation; Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations; Four Paws International; Global Animal Welfare; International Primate Protection League; Jakarta Animal Aid Network; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Hong Kong and Wild Welfare are all members of the Macaque Coalition and have contributed to or otherwise support this report

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