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Unilad ignores pleas over monkey suffering

unilad

A coalition of concerned organizations has asked Unilad to stop sharing images like this one, which misinform
the public about the suitability of primates as pets.

 

PRESS RELEASE for immediate release 27 July 2016

 

“When you're searching for f*cks to give,” ran the banners pasted across a video of Angel, the famous pet monkey, drinking from a green plastic cup and turning the pages of a big book. The video was posted on Facebook by Unilad on July 13, just days after they had been contacted by a coalition of organizations requesting that they review their policy about posting images of primates being kept in pet-like situations, due to the negative effects that such videos are known to have on primates all over the world.   

Angel’s owner claims that the long-tailed macaque is “a rescue,” yet Angel is depicted in dozens of YouTube videos in her owner’s house, cuddling with children and cats, having makeup applied and generally living a life in entirely inappropriate circumstances that are unlike any that a reputable animal sanctuary would provide for her. She is never far from people and never with other monkeys. No primate sanctuary with any understanding of what monkeys need rescuing from would allow such situations to occur with their rescued animals, and they certainly would not publicly post such images of their resident primates. This is because sanctuaries know that such images promote the trade in primates as pets; a trade that inevitably causes suffering for the animals involved, and often for the people, too.

Thanks in part to exposure to images of apes and monkeys living the apparent high life with human companions, the general public often fails to grasp the reality of primate ownership - that primates are undomesticated animals with certain innate needs that are not possible to meet in domestic situations. Being born in captivity does not equal domestication, but many people do not understand this, and are easily and thoroughly convinced that with a whole lot of “love”, a monkey can become a happy member of a human family.

Unilad’s video of Angel travelled quickly through the Internet. Within hours, the video had been viewed thousands of times and now has well over two million hits. As expected, the inevitable “I want one” comments appeared almost immediately. Sadly, Unilad never responded to the coalition of concerned organizations who had so recently asked the organization to reconsider such postings. The title and caption of Unilad’s post, and their continual posting of harmful material, appears to be indicative of how little they care for primate welfare and conservation. Read the letter that Unilad ignored below.

11 July 2016

Dear Unilad,

We are a coalition of animal welfare and conservation organizations with specific expertise in non-human primates. Several of us have contacted you individually about this matter, but none have as yet received a reply. We hope you will take our concerns to heart and let us know what you think of this matter.

Will you consider implementing a policy that limits or eliminates the promotion of images or videos that depict non-human primates in pet-like settings, in human environments, with human companions?

With well over 14 million fans on your Facebook page alone, what you choose to post achieves great visibility and widespread impact. On May 22nd, you posted a video of a so-called “rescued” monkey in a human home, wearing lipstick, and being combed by her human companion (here: https://www.facebook.com/uniladmag/videos/2278236895532690/). This video, like previous similar posts, was almost certainly posted in a spirit of fun. People really do like to see cute videos of humans and animals interacting. What you may not know, though, is that the keeping of primates as pets is a very problematic practice. You are probably unaware that viral images of this sort contribute dangerously to the general public’s misunderstanding about primates and their needs. Exposure to such images can have a seriously negative impact on animal welfare and conservation, particularly when the images are presented as light-hearted, fun diversions.

Uninformed viewers of videos like these tend to form the impression that primates can and do thrive in human company and in human environments. Any credible primatologist, biologist or animal welfare specialist, however, will tell you that they cannot. Multiple studies1–5 have shown that images of this nature influence human perceptions of and attitudes towards primates. These, in turn, shape people’s behaviour towards primates. For example, exposure to videos like the one posted on May 22nd increase viewers’ likelihood to want a monkey as a pet. In other, similar cases, the spread of such videos has directly hindered conservation efforts for highly endangered species6.

Consider the condemnation faced by celebrities who obtain pet primates or pose for photos with endangered animals. Justin Bieber, Dez Bryant Lady Gaga, for example, have all been called foolish and irresponsible for such actions. Unilad would do well to avoid such associations.

We appeal to Unilad, as a powerful source of exposure for viral videos and images of all kinds, to acknowledge that videos such as that posted on May 22nd can have unintended negative impacts. If Unilad and other major sources of these videos and images would stop posting them, then such damage would be largely prevented, and our non-human primate cousins would stand a far better chance at survival in a world that is already stacked against them.

We hope to hear your thoughts on this matter soon.

Sincerely,

Nicola O’Brien, Captive Animals Protection Society (www.captiveanimals.org); Brooke Aldrich, Neotropical Primate Conservation (www.neoprimate.org); Erika Fleury, North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (www.primatesanctuaries.org); Sarah Hanson and Paul Reynolds, Wild Futures (www.wildfutures.org); Kate Chabriere, Moroccan Primate Conservation (www.mpcfoundation.nl); Professor Anna Nekaris, Little Fireface Project (www.nocturama.org); Dr Sian Waters, Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation (www.barbarymacaque.org)

 

 logos

Sources:

1. Leighty, K. A. et al. Impact of Visual Context on Public Perceptions of Non-Human Primate Performers. PLoS ONE10,

e0118487 (2015). http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118487

2. Ross, S. R., Vreeman, V. M. & Lonsdorf, E. V. Specific Image Characteristics Influence Attitudes about Chimpanzee Conservation and Use as Pets. PLoS ONE6, e22050 (2011).

3. Ross, S. R. et al. Inappropriate use and portrayal of chimpanzees. Science319, 1487 (2008).

4. Schroepfer, K. K., Rosati, A. G., Chartrand, T. & Hare, B. Use of ‘Entertainment’ Chimpanzees in Commercials Distorts Public Perception Regarding Their Conservation Status. PLoS ONE6, e26048 (2011).

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0026048

5. Aldrich, B. Facial expressions in performing primates: Could public perceptions impact primate welfare? (University of Edinburgh, 2015).

6. Nekaris, B. K. A.-I., Campbell, N., Coggins, T. G., Rode, E. J. & Nijman, V. Tickled to Death: Analysing Public

Perceptions of ‘Cute’ Videos of Threatened Species (Slow Lorises – Nycticebus spp.) on Web 2.0 Sites. PLoS ONE8,

e69215 (2013). http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0069215

 

ENDS

 

Video posted by Unilad on 13 July: https://www.facebook.com/uniladmag/videos/2318415494848163/

Video posted by Unilad on 19 May: https://www.facebook.com/uniladmag/videos/2278236895532690/

 

Wildlife Trafficking and Child Labour

Last weekend, we participated in a police intervention at the district of Sauce, San Martin. In this intervention, a woolly monkey, a capuchin monkey, a sloth and a tortoise, who were all being used for photo tourism, were rescued. The animals were handled by children, who were asking tourists for 5 soles per photo. Four out of the seven children we had identified were caught by the police. After they were caught, the kids started crying out loud, seeking attention from the tourists, who became worried about the children and started criticizing the police intervention. The police were very kind to the children but didn’t surrender to the pressure of A child with a howler monkey used as tourist attraction. Photo: Noga Shanee/NPCthe crowd. The children were brought to the police station where they gave their data and their parents were called. The childrens’ parents were fined 39 500 Peruvian Soles (about 12,000 USD), which is the lowest fine according to Peruvian law for the trade or wildlife ownership. The police also warned the parents that the child labour is illegal in Peru and made them aware that they would be punished much harder themselves if they tried to punish their kids for being arrested. The children were not sanctioned by the police. Instead, the police just had a talk with them about the situation and they were warned not to keep or use wild animals.


This intervention highlights a very important phenomenon: the use of children in the wildlife trade. In our last visits to Sauce, most of the people handling the animals were adults, but when they saw that the authorities were acting on this illegal activity, they started bringing their children to do the job, hoping the police would not arrest underage children.

We’ve been finding this situation in lots of places; children are travelling long distances, sometimes with their mothers and sometimes alone, to bring newly hunted animals to the wildlife traders and markets. People don’t report these children and the authorities don’t want to intervene, since they’re aware of the social consequences and criticism associated with police interventions toward minors. When the children and mothers are arrested, they tend to cry, saying that the animal is the child’s pet and we know that, even though having these animals as a pet is also illegal, a lot of the authorities will not confiscate the animal. For this reason, the use of child labour is becoming one of the most common tactics of the wildlife trade.

We congratulate the police team in Sauce, especially the commissar Julio Erik Reátegui Álvarez for his professional and correct procedure in this sensitive situation. In order to support the efforts of the commissar against the wildlife trade in Sauce, we have now given 2 days of environmental education talks in the schools of Sauce, explaining to the children that wild animals are not pets or tourist attractions and that the children themselves also have social rights that can’t be violated.

We ask all tourists and citizens, whenever they see children travelling or working with wild animals, not to ignore the situation but to call the authorities so that they can intervene. This is not just for the animals sake, but also for the welfare of these children, who are being exploited against the law.

 A confiscated sloth and child on the way to the police station. Photo: Noga Shanee

 

Wildlife Rescue

Since January we have been involved in the rescue of 177 wild animals from illegal trafficking! The anti-trafficking operations we organized with the authorities have led to the arrest of seven wildlife traffickers.

These anti trafficking operations included raids on five markets in Pucallpa, which resulted in the arrest of four traffickers, the rescue of live animals and confiscation of close to a hundred kilograms of bush meat. Two other raids took place in the Vado Market in Yurimaguas, Loreto, where more than 150 animals were rescued and two traffickers were arrested.

Those detained by police are currently under investigation and both administrative and criminal proceedings have been opened against them. Thanks to recent changes in the Peruvian wildlife laws immediate sentencing is possible for the first time and penalties have been increased to 3 to 6 years in prison and a minimum fine of S/.39,500 (about $11,000).

NPC's undercover work helped identify the trafficking centers and during the raids we helped identify illegal activity and have aided in care of the rescued animals.

None of this would have been possible without the work of the authorities of Ucayali and Loreto. These regions are national centers of wildlife trafficking in Peru, with hundred to thousands of animals trafficked every day, smuggled from the rainforest to coastal cities and out of the country. These kinds of operations are an absolute necessity to combat these practices that are driving many species to extinction. We hope that under the new wildlife law raids will be much more frequent until wildlife trafficking will be stamped out.

End of Year Report 2015

We are pleased to present NPC's annual report, which highlights our most important achievements of 2015.  From important studies on the ecology of  Peru's endemic primate species, to the continued success and expansion of our Community Based Conservation Network, to an intensified focus on battling the illegal trafficking of Peru's fauna, it has been a very busy year! 

We hope you will enjoy learning more about it.

Click here to download

NPC End of Year Report

Support our spay/neuter program for dogs

NPC is seeking funding for the implementation of a spay/neuter programme in the villages of the Peruvian Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot.This region is considered to the most biodiverse region on Earth, as well as one of the most threatened. and is home to many endemic and highly threatened taxa of flora and fauna, including the Critically Endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda), the Long-whiskered Owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi) and spectacle bear (Tremarctos ornatus).

Local people keep dogs for company, but also for security reason and very often they leave dogs in very remote areas to guard their fields. Sometimes they leave them in the fields overnight to guard cattle. These dogs are fed the minimum necessary and hunt to supplement their diet and to amuse themselves when their owners are away. Except from the direct hunting problem, unhealthy stray domestic animals can be very dangerous vectors for diseases transmission into the forest, contaminating and infecting populations of wildlife with diseases they have little or no immunity against. These diseases can become real epidemics wiping out wild populations of certain species without anyone knowing about it. Therefore it is extremely important to keep domestic animals population as low and as healthy as possible.

There is also a very important moral issue. The main way people in the area avoid too much breeding is by killing the females as soon as they are born, usually by drowning in a sack. Therefore, in typical villages, there are very few females and a lot of males. Apart from the horrible ways in which the new born females are disposed of there is also the problem of to many males. When just one female is in heat fights between the dozens of males become very fierce and many are wounded severely, sometimes dying later from injuries or infection.

The idea of this project is to offer free sterilizations, basic veterinary care and education about how dogs and cats should be kept, to the people living in villages surrounding our research station. We have vets associated with the project that are willing to do the work voluntarily or for a nominal fee, therefore costs will be kept to a minimum, just materials and transport. We estimate that 300 - 400 pounds would be sufficient for the first 30-40 dogs, or enough for two or three villages. Prices will decrease slightly if we can get funds for a larger amount of operations which we could be offered to people in growing number of villages, depending on the amount of funds available.

Support our spay/neuter program for dogs

Godzilla “El Niño” and Peruvian Children

“El Niño” is a natural phenomenon that occurs every three to five years, bringing torrential rains, flooding, landslides and drought. Climate change, warming of the oceans and the loss of the ozone layer increase the frequency and intensity of this phenomenon. It is believed that this year’s “El Niño” could be the worst ever recorded and for this reason has been named the Godzilla “El Niño”. With the consistently high and rising levels of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, the danger of flooding and landslides is ever increasing. In the last two years, dozens of people have lost their lives and hundreds have lost their homes as a result of these natural disasters. Central Bagua Grande and parts of Moyobamba, the capital of San Martin state, were flooded this year due to the effects of climate change, even without any influence from“El Niño” or Godzilla.

At the moment we are carrying out an environmental education campaign, visiting rural villages in Amazonas and San Martin, educating school children about the importance of primates and forests through games,
videos and storytelling. This year we are also including activities specifically focusing on the threat of the “El Niño” phenomenon. The majority of the villages that we plan to visit during this campaign have so far been un-reachable due to torrential rains that have made many roads impassable.

Although a state of emergency has been declared in both Amazonas and San Martin, the national campaign “Preparate Peru”(Prepare yourself Peru) has had little impact in rural areas. Local people know little about what this year’s weather will bring but schools are being closed for December as a precaution. However little more is being done to prepare rural cities and villages.

We must understand that the lives of thousands of rural Peruvian children are in very real danger. Highways are closed, harvests ruined, houses destroyed, water contaminated and areas without power mean a large loss of life and increase in future poverty.

It is common to hear people say that “El Niño” is a natural phenomenon, or an act of god, and that they just need to put up with it, but it is important to understand the magnitude of destruction that is about to occur and that it is a consequence of the continued destruction of ecosystems. It is the result of bad government policies that promote deforestation. It is time to demand that governments value life and  protect it; that they stop treating nature as a resource to be exploited; and their rural citizens are not treated like expendable people.

Photos: NPC

Felicito el cierre del mercado Bellavista- Uno de los principales mercados ilícitos de fauna silvestre en Perú

Por Noga Shanee, NPC

El día 28 de Octubre, he tenido la mayor satisfacción al ser testigo del desalojo del mercado Bellavista, siendo trasladado a un nuevo y formal local. Las nuevas instalaciones han sido diseñadas para facilitar operaciones de inspección y control por parte de las autoridades y el tráfico de fauna silvestre no estará permitido.

Bellavista era un mercado ilegal, manejado informalmente por la municipalidad de Coronel Portillo, Pucallpa. Además de ventas cotidianas, este mercado comercializaba ilegalmente con fauna silvestre, drogas e incluso existen sospechas de que se traficaba con personas. Durante los veinte años que operó este mercado se han presentado ente las autoridades cientos de denuncias sobre tráfico de fauna y otros negocios ilícitos y también sobre la terrible contaminación que fue la causa de muchas enfermedades en la ciudad de Pucallpa. Sin embargo, las mafias que lideraban este mercado, evitaban la entrada de las autoridades con gran violencia, por este motivo las denuncias fueron archivadas una tras de otra: siendo los traficantes los únicos beneficiados de este estado de abandono ya que delinquían  libremente y abiertamente. 

Durante los últimos 20 años millones de animales vivos (mascotas) y muertos (carne de monte) han sido vendidos a vista y paciencia en este mercado ubicado a un par de cuadras del centro de la ciudad. La manera abierta en que se comercializaban los animales en este mercado ha generado que la población perciba el tráfico de fauna silvestre como algo legal y aceptable. En los tachos de basura de este mercado se podía encontrar cada día varios animales muertos que no aguantaron el miedo, la depresión, el hambre y las enfermedades y fueron botados a la basura sin ningún respeto. El tráfico de fauna silvestre que ocurrió en Bellavista a unos niveles extremadamente altos, afectaba a los animales que sufrieron y perdieron sus vidas, además de tener un papel importante en la extinción de especies de la Amazonia Peruana.

El mercado de Bellavista ha sido uno de los principales objetivos de la campaña en contra del tráfico de fauna silvestre dirigida por NPC y desde el año 2013 hemos trabajado incansablemente en Pucallpa denunciando las actividades ilegales que ocurrían en este mercado. Hemos organizado protestas, ruedas de prensa y campañas de concienciación con las autoridades y el público en general, con la finalidad de clausurar este terrible mercado que tantas muertes y sufrimiento ha causado a incontables animales.

Es importante tener en cuenta que la clausura de este mercado no significa el fin del tráfico de fauna silvestre en Pucallpa. La completa e indignante falta de respuesta de las autoridades ambientales nacionales y regionales contra el tráfico de fauna silvestre en la región Ucayali, ha resultado en la existencia de almacenes ilegales escondidos en la ciudad donde los traficantes compran/venden miles de animales. El hecho de que el principal centro de comercio ha sido clausurado es un gran paso, pero ahora es el momento más importante para parar el negocio de la fauna silvestre. Las autoridades ambientales deben despertarse, identificar y atacar los traficantes, sacarles de sus huecos y sancionarles fuertemente. Deben asegurar que de ahora en adelante los traficantes de fauna no podrán acceder al público directamente y abiertamente en ningún sitio de la cuidad.

Sabemos que el traslado del mercado provocó una protesta social y que algunos comerciantes honestos fueron afectados por ello. Sin embargo, el cierre de este punto de ilegalidad y contaminación, que era una vergüenza para la cuidad y sus autoridades, fue un gran paso hacia el desarrollo de Pucallpa, de Ucayali, y de Perú.  Uno de los principales mercados ilícitos de fauna silvestre en Perú ya no existe, y esto es un gran logro.  Así es que de nuevo felicito a la municipalidad de Coronel Portillo por finalmente demoler este terrible mercado que logró funcionar ilegalmente durante tantos años. Nosotros como NPC reiteramos nuestro compromiso a continuar trabajando en Pucallpa hasta terminar con el tráfico de fauna silvestre.

Hago un llamamiento a los ciudadanos Pucallpeños, por favor si tienen información sobre algún almacén de fauna silvestre en cualquier lado de la ciudad, o si se encuentran un lugar donde los traficantes de fauna están estableciendo de nuevo para vender animales al público, por favor avisen de inmediato y en total confianza al correo electrónico:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

El mercado de Bellavista - CLAUSURADO

Lazy Conservation

Peru, like many other biodiverse countries suffers from severe deficiencies in the function of its wildlife authorities. Scarce economic resources, lack of professional staff and high levels of corruption hinder efforts for efficient wildlife law enforcement and crime prevention. 

Cock of the rockIn answer to the high levels of wildlife trafficking crimes many of these states follow the logic promoted by the US by opening new options for legal exploitation of wild animals. The two most common justifications for this are A) to make local people “love” nature by giving it economic value and B) saturate the market with legally harvested wildlife so people will not need to buy from illegal traffickers. Trophy hunting and commerce of endangered species from breeding centers or hunting concessions are some of the most common projects resulting from this logic. Peru is currently enthusiastically promoting all of these.

The problem with this logic is that in reality the absence of efficient authorities, absence of a proper scientific basis and research into illegal activities, high levels of corruption and the inequality in dividing profits, make these initiatives counterproductive; the sacrifice of animals legally exploited is added to the ones illegally hunted or traded and permits are often used to launder illegal trade. Also, the idea of saturating the market does not seem to work in reality, as it confuses the public; people see that their neighbors have animals legally and perches the same species, for lower process from traffickers. It also confuses the authorities who are rarely experts in wildlife identification and legalize wildlife bought illegally.  

The best documented example for this misuse of legal permits for laundering illegal activities in Peru was in endangered timber investigated by the Environmental Investigation Agency. Recently I spoke with personnel from the Ecological Police of Pucallpa and was told about the illegal timer situation. I was informed that: “As illegal as the wood originally is, when it gets here to Pucallpa we already have it registered”. This shows how organized and efficient environmental crime is in Peru and how the traffickers use the inefficiencies and corruption of the authorities to hide their illegal activities inside the legal framework. We at NPC published a press release about the illegalities related to the authorized exploitation of Yellow-spotted Amazon River Turtles. We are now investigating very worrying illegal activities related to trophy hunting in Peru.

I call this kind of initiative “Lazy Conservation”, states do not make sufficient effort in to improving environmental authorities, they don’t invest in investigation or offer creative solutions to wildlife traffic, but they enthusiastically adopt philosophies of privatizing nature and let market forces control the future of wildlife, hoping things will get better by themselves. Now is a critical time for Peruvian fauna, deforestation and levels of wildlife traffic are continually rising and many species are on the verge of extinction. The new Forestry and Wildlife Law allows and promotes many schemes for wildlife exploitation. The efficiency of the authorities is not improving and in some areas is even worsening. The authorities are able to confiscate only a tiny fraction of wildlife traded and mostly intervene in cases of privately owned pets rather than the traffickers.  If Peru wants to protect its fauna it should stop relaying on miraculous, superficial and irrational solutions and urgently put serious efforts into restructuring its wildlife authorities to allow sincere and profound solutions to wildlife crime.

 

 

Press release - Petition against trophy hunting of pumas

El Estado Peruano está considerando aprobar la caza deportiva de pumas. La idea es cazar pumas del coto de caza EL ANGOLO y posiblemente de otras Áreas Naturales Protegidas (ANPs), a cambio de un monto pagado al ANP.

Ayer entregamos al señor Pedro Gamboa, jefe del Servicio Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (SERNANP) la petición para que no apruebe la caza deportiva de pumas en Perú, detallando los problemas legales, ecológicos, sociales y morales relacionados con la caza deportiva.

La petición fue firmada por más de 3100 personas de Perú y del resto del mundo y la puedes ver aquí:

https://www.change.org/p/pedro-gamboa-jefe-del-sernanp-no-aprueben-la-caza-deportiva-de-pumas-en-per%C3%BA?recruiter=135696230&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive

La carta con la que se presentó la petición se encuentra aquí:

http://www.neoprimate.org/Gamboa carta.pdf

 

More Articles...

  1. Charity calls for immediate closure of “epicentre of illegal wildlife trafficking in Peru”
  2. NPC Newsletter Vol. 31
  3. Conservationists and Peruvian villagers join forces to save endangered monkey
  4. Two new scientific publications

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