Macaques and the Environment
My friends and I were speaking of the Mila Troop and Lizza the other day. Adult monkeys in Mila Troop (and some younger ones) were trapped, and removed, from Angkor Archaeological Park. I am convinced that those trapped monkeys have not been culled, but have been relocated. I’ve been doing some research regarding macaques, and the environment. The more information I have found, the more I’m convinced the trapping is for relocation, not a death sentence. (I don’t mind if anyone disagrees, for I may have missed something.) We know by the the news article in the Pnom Penh Post (October 6, 2019) that WLA was with CFA, when they trapped the Mila troop at Angkor Wat. They weren’t as careful as they should have been. They took some nursing mothers, leaving their babies behind. Although tragic, this was an unintentional oversight, in my opinion.
WLA (Wildlife Alliance) and CFA (Cambodia Forestry Administration) trapped the Mila Troop macaques, and released them into the forest, in a different province. They are near Tnort Chum commune’s Prey Khla village, in Pursat Province, Krakor district. The macaques in that area need to repopulate, to aid forest biodiversity and reforestation. The macaques from the seaside town of Sihanoukville (Independence Beach) were also relocated there, back in 2019. Both catch and release projects were covered by the Phnom Penh Post. Quote from that news article: ” Sihanoukville, Cambodia News: Many people who have spent their holidays in the seaside town of Sihanoukville will remember the cute (or aggravating) monkeys that live in the rocky area of bush between the water reservoir and the Independence Hotel, near Independence Beach. The macaques would hang out on the roadside, while people stopped to feed them bananas and take their photos. It was a local tourist attraction. Well, their days are numbered. The Sihanoukville authorities signed an agreement on 5 February, 2019, to remove the troop of monkeys from their home, and relocate them to a happy holiday camp in Pursat.” UNQUOTE
The recent trap and release projects by CFA & WLA, of the over-populated park and pagoda/temple macaques, have also
been relocated to the same area. This is the area they are repopulating after poaching has decimated their numbers, in the deep jungle. The trapped macaques have been relocated to the forests, for good reasons. Macaques are necessary to the eco system. The fact is that lllegal Wildlife Traffickers/Poachers are on the rise. It is much more lucrative than farming. They are stealing macaques from the jungles illegally. Then they are illegally moving them across the border to Vietnam.
Vietnam’s own population of long-tailed macaques has been decimated. They look across the border to supplement their farms, sell them to labs, for bush meat, etc. Not only is the wild macaque trade lucrative, it also used to be legal. The years between 2006 and 2009 saw a macaque capture craze, as many villagers traded farming to trap macaques. One captured macaque could fetch a price of between $30 and $50 per animal. That is almost a month’s pay for most in that area of the world.
It was not just villagers who trapped the macaques. During that time, the Forestry Administration also caught wild macaques to populate its breeding center, as part of a program aimed at EXPORTING the monkeys. It is now illegal, since 2010. That’s why they now call it Illegal Wildlife Traffickers. They are still out there, supplying the black market.
Macaques are being decimated by poaching, in Cambodian jungles, today. According to BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, Cruelty Free International) this is having an impact on the population numbers of the macaque monkeys in Cambodia. Poaching over the decades, has resulted in the degradation of biodiversity in jungle flora. Logging also caused degradation of the forests. In addition, Nick Marx, director of wildlife and rescue care programs at the NGO Wildlife Alliance in Phnom Tamao, said the country’s macaque population has plummeted as poachers trap the animals to smuggle abroad or sell to licensed farms. A total of 234,291 snares were collected from five protected areas in Cambodia from 2010 to 2019. More than 40,000 snares were removed from protected areas last year (2019). Some YouTube viewers don’t understand the snaring crisis is also still rampant. Angkor Wat is surrounded by large forests, and the Angkor Archaeological Park monkeys do go into that forest. They then fall victim to poachers’ snares.
Macaques and the Environment
Macaques are very important for the forest eco-system. They are primary seed dispersers. They eat fruit, and the seeds they ingest get spread around the forest/jungles as they poop the undigested seeds out. Scientists/Biologists nick-named them the eco-engineers. One study found that seeds were dispersed from 83 meters to 1741 meters from the original ingestion area, but most figures were well over 100 meters. (They considered their study an underestimate.) As eco-system engineers, these
primates have the ability to help rebuild damaged and cleared forests. Which is important in the larger goal of keeping Cambodia’s forests healthy. Those macaques that were relocated to the forest will help reverse the degradation of the jungle. Since the macaques in the jungle are being decimated by the Illegal Wildlife Trade/Poachers, they are needed. Plus, the Poachers have destroyed trees, trying
to get the Macaques. This has been going on for years, and is still rampant.
WLA and CFA have been educating the people of Cambodia on the importance of their forests and their diversity. As we know WLA is NOT just about rehabilitation. Their efforts also consist of Conservation and Preservation, or restoration of flora and fauna from loss, damage, or neglect. Our CWFPCO in Siem Reap, also provides services aimed toward protection, preservation, management, or restoration of wildlife and of natural resources such as forests, and lakes/rivers. The Macaques in the Forests have been decimated in large numbers, which in turn causes the degradation of the jungle/forest. To address this, they are relocating macaques that they have trapped, to replace the poached animals. WLA, in conjunction with CFA, is relocating these macaques to areas that need their reforestation, and forest diversification.
They are replacing the macaques in the forest areas that have been taken by traffickers, with the over-populated Urban/Temple Macaques. WLA and Cambodia Forest Administration work together in the removal and relocating macaques and other wildlife. They also work together rescuing animals from the illegal wildlife trade, regardless of species. Six days after Kari (Amari Troop, Maria’s daughter) went missing in 2019, Wildlife Alliance, in cooperation with Forestry Administration officials and local authorities, rescued 526 wild animals from illegal Wildlife Traffickers. None were endangered species. They rescued “fifty-five Long Tail Macaques, three polecats, two snakes, and 466 whistling ducks.” WLA would not be involved in a cull, that would be absurd for an entity devoted to preservation. WLA knows the importance of putting Monkeys back into their natural habitat, regardless of species. They would preserve the forest diversity, by releasing them back into the forest, in areas that need the macaques’ eco-engineering.
Doing Our Part
CWFPCO applauds the relocation and reforestation efforts by CFA, and WLA. CWFPCO is committed to cleaning up the environment, aiding in reforestation, preventing poaching, and giving these macaques every chance they can, to do what they do so well. With your donations, they can hire more villagers to sweep for snares, and clean up the waterways and forests in Siem Reap. This solves two problems: It gives the Siem Reap villagers much-needed money to feed their families, by working to remove trash, and destroy traps and snares, and it makes the forests, waterways, and wildlife, in Siem Reap, safer, and cleaner.
Written by Dianne M.
Edit by Cindy Clark