Yesterday the WFFT Rescue Team headed out to an urgent call about two young male Northern pig-tailed macaques (Macaca leonina) that were ‘no longer needed’ by their owners. The two macaques in question were being kept on the 5th floor of a hotel in a city about an hour from the WFFT Wildlife Rescue Centre. This city is well known for its large populace of urban long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), the urban macaques are on one hand revered, respected and cared for, and on the other hand, loathed and abused, and seen as pests. The two macaques in question were being used as ‘guard’ macaques, chained on the top floor of the hotel to scare away the smaller urban long-tailed macaques, and prevent them from occupying the hotel. They were both purchased as very young infants from the South of Thailand for 8000 THB (230 USD) each. Now at 2 years old, the owners decided that they were not needed. We expect that these monkey were stolen from the forests after witnessing the murder of their mothers, all to be sold into a life of abuse.
During the initial health check it was found that the skin around the iron neck restraints had became deeply imbedded within the neck, and in some areas was completely concealed under the skin. Such barbaric tools are to used prevent the enslaved macaques from escaping. These rigid iron neck restraints are comparable to those used on human slaves during the abhorrent Transatlantic Slave Trade. They are put around their necks at a young age and remain unadjusted as they grow causing them to eventually become completely concealed under the skin. Fortunately, we were able to rescue them and they were removed from their chains and transported to the WFFT Wildlife Hospital.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the Northern pig-tailed macaque as Vulnerable (VU). Their population has declined by over 30% over the last three generations across its entire range due to several threats, and this decline is predicted to continue at the same rate or higher in the next three generations. These animals are hunted and traded for food, sport and traditional “medicine”, as well as often being kept as pets. In Thailand, the males of this species are exploited for picking coconuts by the industry. Sometimes, a well-trained macaque is sold for 1,000USD. They are also in demand by resorts and other tourist attractions for inhumane circus style entertainment.
Further inspection of the damage inflicted by the use of neck restraints revealed deep painful wounds on both the macaques. The WFFT Vet Team had to use industrial metal cutters to finally rid these little guys of their shackles. The wounds were cleaned and they were given pain medication and antibiotics to aid with their recovery. Free from their chains, these young boys will never have to be slaves again. We hope to be able to introduce them in the near future into one of the current social troops of pig-tailed macaques at the WFFT Wildlife Rescue Centre. We will keep you updated on their progress.