Rhesus monkeys from Nepal will soon be sent to the United
States, where they will be used as subjects for research on HIV/AIDS
The National Bio-medical Research Centre in Lele, Lalitpur, is
exporting the primates to the US to experiment vaccines for HIV and
TB. The breeding facility of the NBMRC is funded by the US government.
The centre has%uFFFD330 monkeys and over 100 babies, all born in
captivity. The NBMRC works with the Southwest Foundation for
Biomedical Research in Texas, that has 6,000 monkeys.
The US scientists turned to Nepal for primates after the Indian
government imposed a ban on the experimentation on monkeys due to
reported inhumane treatment against the primates.
Surya Bahadur Pandey, management officer at the Department of
National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, said 200 rhesus monkeys
were caught for the centre in three years.
Mangal Man Shakya, chairman, Wildlife Watch Group, said their
organisation would protest the bid to export the monkeys. "This act
contradicts the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1976,
which prohibits export of monkeys," Shakya added.
He said the government should have consulted the WHO before approving
the export of monkeys. "Breeding should be allowed for the
preservation, not for scientific tests," Shakya said. Rhesus monkeys
are listed on the CITES Appendix II, implying they are on the verge
of becoming an endangered species.
These monkeys are sought for tests, as most of their genes match with
ours. Pandey said the NPWC laws allowed export of animals for
research purpose if prior permission were acquired. "Monkeys born in
the centre are their personal property. We cannot oppose experiments
on them," he added. The government gets Rs 25,000 per monkey as
Prabesh Man Shrestha, director, NBMRC, said the monkeys were taken
into captivity from areas where they were troubling local residents.
"They will not get virus injected in the labs. The scientists will
only analyse their behaviour and genetics," Shrestha maintained,
adding that rhesus monkeys have been used as subjects for scientific
tests for over 70 years.
We, the undersigned,%uFFFDare very upset and surprised about the apparent decision of the Nepal government to allow export of rhesus monkeys to a US laboratory for biomedical research. We got this news through a write up in The Himalayan Times of November 18, 2008.
Only a months ago your government issued a letter to diplomatic missions stating it would NOT allow export of monkeys for biomedical research. This was confirmed in a letter received by animal rights groups in Lausanne and Geneva on August 21, through the Swiss Nepalese Embassy. A letter from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation was attached stating the same.
We wonder why this decision has suddenly reversed, especially since enormous international pressure has been put on your government to issue a ban and to rehabilitate the captured and bred monkeys. In July only 100.000 protest letters were send to your government and to various concerned parties. Demonstrations have been held in almost all European capitals as well as in India, Russia and the USA and at United Nations offices. Some groups have even gone as far as calling for a tourism ban on Nepal.
We strongly request the government to not reverse its earlier decision and to demonstrate enlightened government by halting (breeding facilities for) biomedical research on Nepalese monkeys. Additionally we request you to implement legislation to prevent such developments from reoccurring.
As you know, monkeys are considered sacred and an important part of Nepal's heritage..%uFFFD Communities living with monkeys do not benefit from this development, and inflicting suffering to animals goes against the spirit of the Constitution and CITES. Many countries now maintain a complete ban on great ape experimentation. India, after realizing that its monkeys were used for gruesome radiation experiments in the US, banned all primate exports in 1977. Today, biomedical research conducted by US institutions continues to be generally cruel and inappropriate.
Trusting you will take quick action to prevent innocent monkeys to undergo terrible suffering,
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