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article imageIllegal primate trade in Bali threatens species survival

By Lynn Curwin     Jul 5, 2011 in Environment
Bali - The illegal primate trade has become big business in Bali, with many being caught in protected habitats, thus threatening the survival of many species.
Pro Fauna reports that there are 40 species of primates in Indonesia, and 70 per cent of them are threatened by extinction because of the illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss. It is believed that more than 200 primates are trafficked through Bali each month.
“This is a dire threat to the survival of the species,” Rosek Nursahid, chairman of Pro Fauna, told the Jakarta Globe. “Their meat is widely believed to be a cure for asthma, although there is no scientific evidence to support this view at all. It’s also considered to go well with the local moonshine.”
Most of the primates sold as pets are babies because they are cute and can be tamed, but when they get older and more difficult to handle they are often neglected or killed. Many of them come from nearby areas such as East Java, and are shipped to the Middle East, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Species commonly being traded are the lutung, the Sumatran orangutan, the silvery gibbon and the Javan slow loris - which are all listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
"Most of the Indonesian primates are protected by law. It is illegal to trade and keep the animals as pets. Not only is the trade crime but it also causes cruelties to the animals," Nursahid was quoted as saying on the Pro Fauna website.
"Buying is killing. If people keep buying the traded primates, more of them will be caught from the wild. Stop buying is the simple way that the public can help to protect and conserve the primates in Indonesia."
Those breaking the wildlife act can be imprisoned for up to five years or be fined.
A rally against the primate trade was held in Denpasar on July 3.
The World Wildlife Fund reports that while western nations are importing fewer primates for pets than they once did, the pet trade continues in other areas, and in China restaurants serve monkeys that were taken from the wild.
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