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Monkey World News

Not made for a cage

7 Days

A UAE pet shop is under investigation for offering to order primates, as pets, for its customers. CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) officers are looking into the shop after being alerted to the situation by 7DAYS. For just dhs1,800 the small roadside store claims to be able to provide buyers with baby monkeys of various species - animals allegedly being bred in captivity somewhere within the UAE. And if you buy a male and female together you may even get a discounted rate, according to the store’s owner. A CITES official, based in the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, said: “All primates are CITES listed and the international trade of these animals requires a CITES permit. Breeding is a different issue again and the management authority will now take this forward to ensure all appropriate documentation is in place.” Another official based in Dubai’s CITES office added: “We will, as a federal government, investigate and if there is shown to be wrong-doing we will contact the relevant municipality with the information and take action. “This is thankfully unusual and the first time I have heard something like this may be happening. Things are improving in the UAE but this concerns us, as it is an issue of public health.” The news comes as thousands of delegates, representing 175 nations including the UAE, as well as other UN agencies and conservation and animal welfare organisations, are meeting in The Hague in the Netherlands to discuss the future of hundreds of endangered animal and plant species at the first CITES conference for three years. 7DAYS was alerted to the shop’s unusual stock by a dog lover who popped inside the store after spotting a boxer pup in the shop window and discovered far more than a forlorn looking canine. “I spotted a picture of a chimp and jokingly asked if they sold monkeys too,” she said. “When the friendly assistant told me they didn’t stock them but that they could place one on order, I left a few minutes later trying not to look shocked.” 7DAYS later visited the store undercover to confirm the details given by two readers. It is believed the monkeys, none of which are kept on shop premises, are being bred within the UAE using primates imported some time ago. What is unclear is if the primates were legally imported to the UAE or whether the breeders, or store, have the required documentation and permits. The store owner did not even seem to be aware of CITES when asked. The UAE is one of 171 nations party to the CITES agreement, which provides strict legislation preventing the illegal trade and breeding of many endangered and potentially endangered species. CITES permits are issued by the Ministry of Environment and Water’s CITES department. WWF programme development co-ordinator Lisa Shrake Perry told 7DAYS: “Any establishment breeding monkeys, listed in Appendix II of the convention, would need to be licensed as a facility to do so by the CITES department of the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water. And even then there are further stipulations about which of the offspring can be traded. The first generation would be classed as those taken from the wild, and both those primates and their offspring would be considered captive bred and are not to be sold. Only the offspring of the second generation would be legally allowed to be sold.” But even if the practice is legal, staff at ape rescue centre Monkey World, based in the UK, urged people considering purchasing a primate to think twice. “They live for maybe 20 or 30 years - it’s a far greater commitment than a hamster,” said one volunteer. “And a house is not a suitable environment for a primate. They live in packs and aren’t designed to be kept as pets.” Dr Alison Cronin MBE, director of the centre added: "Many primates from the pet trade come to us with severe mental problems because they are torn away from their mothers at birth and kept in solitary confinement. When kept under such circumstances, captive monkeys become incredibly aggressive - more so than they usually are. As soon as they reach adolescence/maturity, they lash out and attack their owners. "We re-homed a chimpanzee from Dubai several years ago and another from Saudi Arabia. Both had their mothers, and several other family members, shot in order to steal the baby, then they were smuggled out of Africa into the Middle East, where they were kept in solitary confinement. After a short time both chimps became too aggressive for their owners to get near. We have now rehabilitated the two chimps back into natural living social groups at the park." PROTECTING WILDLIFE CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines. Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and capable of bringing some species close to extinction. CITES came into force in 1975, and currently covers almost 33,000 species, more than 80 per cent of them in the plant kingdom. It now has 171 members.

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