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Dear Prime Minister
As Chief Executive of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a leading animal protection group based in the United Kingdom that works at an international level and liaises closely with politicians, and as Chief Executive of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), a coalition of animal protection organisations from across Europe, I am writing to alert you to the findings of the BUAV’s investigation into the trapping and captive-breeding of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) on Mauritius.
The BUAV has undertaken numerous field investigations into the international trade in primates for research. Our recent findings on Mauritius raise a number of serious concerns regarding the trapping, handling, housing and export of the long-tailed macaque. I have enclosed a copy of our report.
The capture of primates from the wild is inherently cruel and the substantial negative impact and suffering caused by trapping is universally recognised by relevant organisations and official bodies. Yet, despite such serious animal welfare concerns, the Mauritius government continues to allow the export of thousands of wild-caught primates and their offspring each year, and the trapping and captivity of others to use for breeding.
The BUAV was told by trappers on Mauritius that it is not uncommon for primates to sustain injuries, such as broken limbs, during the trapping process. One trapper, who at the time was working for Noveprim Ltd., kept wild-caught primates in appallingly cramped conditions on his premises before taking them to the farms. He routinely abused one wild-caught individual by tormenting him and swinging him around by his tail.
The trapping of long-tailed macaques has often erroneously been cited as a means of population control, yet it is widely recognised that trapping provides only a short-term solution. There are humane and effective long-term solutions – including the sterilisation of female macaques – that can be used as method of population control if this is considered necessary.
At the farms, the BUAV found thousands of primates held in overcrowded groups in concrete pens. Despite attempts at ‘enrichment,’ the pens filmed by the BUAV were devoid of trees and other foliage. This unnatural environment is in sharp contrast to the surrounding forest habitat which is the primates’ natural home.The cramped and artificial conditions within the farms cannot provide the freedom of movement and choice of activity that are so important to the well-being of these individuals.
Our investigation found that primates are subjected to cruel practices, including the forced early separation of females from their young as early as 8-12 months of age, yet the natural weaning of long-tailed macaques is a gradual process. Forcibly separating infants from their mothers is an extremely distressing experience for both the mother and infant. Our investigation also discovered the use of cruel and inappropriate handling methods by workers. At one farm, belonging to Bioculture (Mauritius) Ltd., workers roughly caught primates by their tails to force them into transit cages. Because long-tailed macaques do not have a prehensile tail, such handling could result in injury, including the separation of vertebrae in the tail leading to considerable pain and debilitation.
We are also concerned to learn that the trade is expanding with the news that a further farm has been proposed by the company Prima-Cyno Ltd, a farm that aims to capture, breed and export primates to Europe and the United States, and house up to 10,000 primates at any one time.
Your government may be unaware of the ultimate fate of the Mauritian primates. We urge you to consider the pain and suffering inflicted on them after they are shipped thousands of miles around the world to research laboratories. Primates are usually kept alone in small, barren, steel cages. With no companionship and little mental stimulation, they often develop abnormal and self-destructive behaviours. Many will be used in toxicity tests which involve the forced ingestion, inhalation or injection of chemicals to the point of causing severe illness and even death. Others will be used in research which may include deliberately inflicting brain damage and the implantation of electrodes.
We appeal to the Government of Mauritius to take immediate action to end this appalling cruelty and ban the capture and export of primates. Some countries have already taken the lead and banned their trapping and export for research and we call on you to do the same. We hope that you will not only be moved by the findings of our investigation, but also be aware of the impact that this continued trade will have upon Mauritius’s international reputation.
The BUAV will be distributing its findings to EU Member States and other importing countries such as the USA and urging them to disassociate themselves from this brutal trade by ceasing the import of primates from Mauritius.
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you further to discuss these issues and look forward to hearing from you.
cc. The Honourable Satya Veyash Faugoo, Minister of Agro Industry and Food Security
Mr. M. Puttoo, Director of National Parks and Conservation Service
Mr. V. Bachraz, Deputy Director of National Parks & Conservation Services
Mr. V. A. Punchoo, Chief Agricultural Officer
Dr. C. Dooky, Senior Veterinary Officer
Dr. D. Meenowa, Principal Agricultural Officer (Veterinary Services)
H. E Mr. A. Kundasamy, High Commissioner, Mauritius Embassy, London