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Monkey World News

Deadly trade in wildlife

The Daily Echo

A SHOCKING global trade in endangered animals and birds has been exposed by leading Dorset primate conservationists.

Putting themselves at risk to gather evidence, Jim and Alison Cronin of Monkey World tracked the illegal buying and selling of primates, tortoises, and birds in the Far East.

They were shocked by the scale of the trade and the horrendous treatment of wildlife at the hands of smugglers.

A damning dossier of their evidence has now been handed to the Thai authorities.

The couple, who run the ape rescue centre near Wareham, have spend two years making numerous trips to Thailand to uncover the extent of the global trade in endangered species.

With the help of South Dorset MP Jim Knight they have taken their findings to representatives of the Thai government in the hope that action will be taken to clamp down on the illegal trade.

And what Mr Cronin describes as "a compelling documentary", showing the smugglers and the desperate plight of the birds and animals, is soon to be aired on TV.

After working alongside HM Customs to expose the smuggling of a rare gibbon into the UK, the couple followed the trail back to Bangkok and photographed and filmed - overtly and secretly - the illegal animal trade they discovered.

"We met with and dealt with dealers in markets and buyers who were offering orang-utans," said Mr Cronin.

During their trips to Thailand the Cronins saw illegal trading of orang-utans, gibbons and primates from across Asia and South America, tortoises from the Middle East, macaws from South America, chimps from Africa and sugar gliders from South Pacific.

Alison described it as "wildlife smuggling and wildlife dying on a scale we've not seen before", part of the largest wildlife smuggling ring in the world.

Having compiled a dossier of their evidence, the couple sought the help of local MP Mr Knight who arranged a meeting with the first secretary to the Thai Embassy.

The dossier is now being studied by the Thai authorities.

Mr Cronin said: "It is an international problem and our mission is to work with governments to stop the smuggling. We have now worked with 14 governments.

"We've presented the dossier and now we are awaiting the results. We believe we have given them the key to uncovering a major smuggling industry."

Jim Knight MP said: "The Cronins have done excellent work, building upon the work they do in this country, and identified such a concentration of illegal animal trade in Thailand.

"We want to build upon that. I have been to the all-party group for animal welfare at Westminster with this information and it is unified in its concern about what has been exposed by Monkey World."

Mr Knight said he and his colleagues would continue to press the Thai government to take action to protect endangered species.

Paying tribute to the Cronins, he added: "Monkey World is a key tourist attraction but some people don't appreciate that it carries out rescues all over the world.

"They have shown again how important that work is and how there is a knock-on effect with other wildlife species."

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