JOHANNESBURG, Sept. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- IFAW welcomed the decision today by the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP 17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to give greater protection to Barbary macaques by transferring them from Appendix II to Appendix I – thus giving the species greater protection from international trade.
"This is a critical step in preventing a further decline in Barbary macaque populations," said Rikkert Reijnen, Senior Project Lead, Wildlife Trade at IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare).
"The decision to uplist Barbary macaques to Appendix I was unanimously decided by all Parties. This is the second time today that we have seen the international community join together in the interests of a species in desperate need of help. Enacting strong, global regulations will make a real difference for these animals," said Reijnen.
"Unfortunately the primates are used as pets in Europe, which is a nightmare for both the animal and the owner. The inclusion in Appendix I will more effectively protect them from poaching and illegal trade and also support ongoing conservation efforts in range countries."
The Barbary macaque is a unique species. It is the only family member of the genus Macaca occurring in Africa and the only non-human primate which occurs north of the Sahara. It is also the only non-human primate living in Europe, where a small semi-wild population inhabits the Rock of Gibraltar in Europe's most southwestern tip. An estimated 6,500 to 9,100 Barbary macaques are left in highly fragmented areas in Morocco and Algeria, with about 200 living on the Rock of Gibraltar.
While habitat fragmentation and loss are the main threats to the survival of the Barbary macaque, the illegal trade in live juvenile macaques for the international pet trade is also a significant danger to wild populations. The species has been categorised as Endangered in the IUCN Red List since 2008 based on an estimated population decline exceeding 50 per cent over the last three generations (24 years). This decline is expected to continue.
"Today's decision will help Algeria and Morocco in their efforts to protect this unique species by strengthening domestic legislation and allowing for higher penalties in cases of poaching and illegal trade," says Reijnen. "We are extremely happy that CITES parties recognized the threat Barbary macaques are facing and decided to act in favor of a species that is disappearing widely unnoticed."
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com
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SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare