This small primate was listed in CITES Appendix II in 1975, but needs more protection as it is the most seized mammal in the EU. PHOTO: © Pond 5/Natalia PaklinaThe Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) is the only macaque species found outside of Asia and the only primate species found north of the Sahara in Africa – with populations in Morocco and Algeria, and an introduced population on Gibraltar.

In this way, a strong social bond is formed between males and juveniles, both the male’s own offspring and those of others in the troop. Whilst this may be a result of selectivity on the part of the females, who may prefer highly parental males, it is a lesson to the human primate on how to raise children.

But once common throughout northern Africa, the total number of remaining macaques was estimated at around 15,000 individuals in 1999. More recently the population was estimated to be reduced to 6,000-10,000 individuals in highly fragmented areas in Morocco and Algeria.

The decline in the population is attributable mainly to habitat loss due to human activity (intensive logging, land clearance for agriculture purposes, etc.) combined with the illegal live trade and local commercial use (captive for photo ops in tourist areas and restaurants).

Most of the specimens taken from the wild are for the international pet trade, mainly infants who are sold in the markets in Morocco and Algeria to tourists with an average price ranging between 100-200 Euros, or smuggled into Europe via air, sea and land. Recent investigations show that primates, including macaques, are also sold via the Web.

The European Union is main destination market for the illegal trade of the Barbary macaque with 200 animals believed to enter the old Continent primarily from the southern border of Spain every year.

READ: Don’t let wildlife disappear—prepping for CITES this September

This small primate –  ranging between 45 to 70 cm in size – was listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix II in 1975, and is listed in Annex B of European Union Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97. The Regulation enforces CITES listings within the EU and provides additional measures for the conservation of species in trade.

Under Article 4 the import of this species into the European Union from Algeria and Morocco is suspended, therefore there is virtually no legal trade in the species.

Despite these strict controls, between 2001 and 2010 the Barbary macaque was the most seized CITES mammal in the EU, accounting for almost 25 percent of live mammal-related seizures.

During this 10-year period 49 seizures of 55 Barbary macaques occurred in the EU with 90 percent originating from Morocco and 8 percent from Algeria; it is also worth mentioning that according to the data on confiscations from the CITES management authorities of Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands and Spain, the actual number of confiscations was substantially higher, 159 sequestrated in those countries. Finally, in 2008, the Barbary macaque was categorised as endangered in the IUCN Red List based on an estimated population decline exceeding 50 percent over the last three generations (24 years).

This September, 182 parties who are a member of the CITES will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17). The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)’s global experts will also be there as observers.

For the Barbary macaque this is a crucial meeting; after several years of tireless advocacy from different NGOs to protect the species from extinction, the European Union and Morocco submitted the proposal to transfer Macaca sylvanus from Appendix II to Appendix I of CITES. The proposal states that the species qualifies for uplisting by satisfying the necessary criteria requested for including a species in Appendix I.

IFAW supports this uplisting proposal and will be advocating in Johannesburg to see this happen.

Follow us on Twitter at @action4ifaw and hashtag #CoP17 for updates on the Barbary macaque and all other animals for which we are advocating.

–RR

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Article source: IFAW

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