Hammerhead International Ltd is a company in Mauritius seeking to build a massive monkey farm. It is proposing to build a facility capable of holding up to 12,000 long-tailed macaques, and plans to export thousands of monkeys, including those captured in the wild in the forests of Mauritius, to laboratories in the USA and Europe. Hammerhead International Ltd is a notorious company that made the headlines in March 2023, when the Mauritius authorities seized 446 long-tailed macaques – found to be kept in deplorable conditions – from an illegal farm it was operating. Its director, Shafeek Jhummun, was arrested and the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security has brought a case against Hammerhead International for the ill-treatment of animals and for the illegal possession of macaques.
Action for Primates, has joined with other organisations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the USA, One Voice, Abolición Vivisección and Cheshire Animal Rights Campaigns in Europe, and Monkey Massacre in Mauritius in appealing to the Mauritius Ministry of Environment to refuse a permit that will allow Hammerhead International Ltd to build a monkey farm.
Mauritius is already one of the world's greatest exporters of monkeys for the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry, and the world's greatest exporter of wild-caught monkeys. If granted, this proposal would inflict even further suffering upon long-tailed macaques, including the capture of thousands more monkeys, an inhumane practice universally recognised as cruel because of the removal of monkeys from their families, friends and homes. Holding and transportation add to this suffering as the monkeys are shipped on long journeys around the world as cargo on aeroplanes. These monkeys are especially vulnerable to disease and injuries during capture and transport and are more likely to be harbouring and shedding pathogens (disease-causing organisms) that could be transmitted to humans and other animals.
Globally, the conservation status of the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) was reassessed as Endangered by the 2022 IUCN Red List.
The long-tailed macaque is the most widely used non-human primate species in laboratories, mainly in regulatory toxicity (poisoning) testing, which is the deliberate poisoning of animals to see if there are adverse effects from a test chemical or drug. In addition to the substantial suffering inflicted upon monkeys, there are major issues concerning the scientific validity of these toxicity tests. Results in the monkeys, especially in a laboratory setting, cannot be reliably and safely extrapolated to people. There are many alternatives to using non-human primates in research and toxicity testing. These alternatives have been shown to provide reliable and predictive information for the human condition, and include human cell, tissue and organ cultures, microdosing and computer models.
(Photo: Long-tailed macaque in toxicity testing laboratory; SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International)