via CAAI News Media
Sunday March 7 2010
WILD monkeys are being illegally trapped and plundered from the forests of south‑east Asia for use in British research laboratory experiments, fear animal welfare campaigners.
Campaigners and MPs are calling on the Home Office to examine allegations that wild-caught macaques are being sourced from the jungles of Laos and Cambodia in breach of international conservation regulations.
Undercover investigators from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) found “appalling” conditions at one primate centre in Laos where the “factory farming of macaques takes place on an industrial scale”.
They said monkeys were kept in rows of small chain-linked pens whose floors were made of either concrete or suspended wire.
And infants were taken from their mothers aged six months, they said, causing extreme distress to both.
Non-human primates can only be imported into the UK for toxicology and medical research tests from companies approved by British inspectors.
Frightened jungle monkeys are kept in netting bags after being trapped in the wild
The regulations are aimed at ensuring adequate conditions and preventing ruthless businessmen cashing in on the booming trade by trapping monkeys in the wild. However, the BUAV fears those rules are being broken.
It is concerned that UK-approved centres in China and Vietnam are sourcing their primates from unapproved farms in Laos where there is no requirement to give long-tailed macaques permanent markers such as tattoos or chips.
Instead, they are simply given removable neck tags, which the BUAV says can be “changed at will” and which renders record-keeping “seriously questionable”.
BUAV’s investigators say they witnessed horrific conditions at the largest of Laos’s three primate centres, the Vannaseng Trading Company.
They claimed that the monkeys’ distress was intensified by overcrowding and by up to two months kept in dark conditions prior to export to China and Vietnam.
They are then shipped onwards to Europe and the USA on journeys that can take up to two days, the BUAV said.
The group also raised concerns that the British Government has just approved a primate centre in Cambodia where campaigners have also found disturbing conditions.
The BUAV wrote to Home Office minister Meg Hillier last week. Its director Sarah Kite said last night: “The continued use of wild-caught primates is universally accepted as being cruel and unethical.
“For the UK to be part of a trade where monkeys continue to be plundered from the wild would be unacceptable.”
Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock, who has raised his own concerns in Parliament, described the conditions in Laos as “nothing short of disgraceful” and called for an investigation into possible import rule breaches.
He said: “The British Government is being completely complacent in this and it now needs to take decisive action.”
However, the Home Office yesterday ruled out any investigation, saying “we have received no evidence to suggest one is needed”.
It stressed that it had inspected conditions the breeding centre in Cambodia last year and found it to be an “acceptable source”.
A spokesman added: “We expect and require the highest standards in all aspects of animal research and will thoroughly examine any evidence that suggests these standards are not being met.”
Some 2,000 primates were imported into the UK from China and South East Asia over the past two years and there is no suggestion that British research centres are breaching international regulations.
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT http://www.buav.org/
EXCLUSIVE BY TED JEORY