Success! EU, Morocco and Algeria join forces to increase protection of Barbary macaques
It’s official! On Tuesday April 26th the European Commission announced that it had tabled a proposal, together with Morocco and Algeria, to transfer Barbary macaques from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I at the upcoming meeting of the Convention, which will take place from 24 September to 5 October 2016 in Johannesburg. This would give the species the highest degree of international protection from (illegal) trade. Given the explicit support of all range states of the species in the wild (Morocco, Algeria and the UK), and of its main destination market once illegally traded (the EU), the proposal’s chances of succeeding are high.
In December of 2015 AAP’s Executive Director David van Gennep met with EU Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella and handed in more than 24.000 signatures demanding increased attention for the species.
‘This uplisting proposal is the result of more than 10 years of relentless work by AAP and its partners on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar. We have knocked on every door from Rabat to Brussels to make sure Barbary macaques got the protection they deserve as a seriously endangered species. It is a major achievement for the organization and our supporters, who have stood behind us with conviction even when ours began to falter’, says van Gennep.
An Appendix I uplisting alone, however, will not be the silver bullet that will solve this problem. Illegal trade in Barbary macaques, like other forms of wildlife trafficking, is a complex challenge which requires an integral, comprehensive approach. Enhanced legal protection via CITES will translate into stricter penalties at the national level and give more tools to improve enforcement efforts, but more needs to happen if we want to save this species from extinction.
This is why AAP and its partners are addressing all steps of the ‘value chain’ in this cruel form of wildlife trafficking through PRIMATE: Project to Reduce Illegal Macaque Trade to Europe, which aims to save Barbary macaques from extinction by conducting anti-poaching, monitoring and educational activities on the ground and by providing expertise and training to enforcement authorities in Spain, Italy and Morocco.
‘In 2015, the AAP-funded team of Eco-Guards in Ifrane National Park in Morocco literally saved 63 infant Barbary macaques from falling in the hands of the poachers. None of them have become the next Juma; none of them will have to miss their mother; none of them will end up here at AAP. Is there a better example of ‘mopping with the tap closed’?’, concludes van Gennep.