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Sian Waters - BMAC UK
14 Lindsay Gardens, Tredegar, Gwent NP22 $RP
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If you’ve been to Marrakech on a holiday or quick visit, you will probably have seen Barbary macaques in the city’s main square. Kept on chains or leads which restrain them from the neck, they make money for their handlers by performing tricks or posing for photos with tourists. This is called the photo prop trade, and it is damaging for Barbary macaque conservation as well as being cruel to the individual macaques.
Where do the macaques come from?
Barbary macaques are taken from the wild as babies to supply the photo prop trade (and the pet trade). This means that the babies are separated from their families and experience extreme psychological distress. They also suffer physically because the diet given to them by their handlers is not appropriate and cannot match the diet they would have in the wild.
Barbary macaques being taken from the wild for the photo prop and pet trades is one major reason why the species is now Endangered, with 8,000 or fewer animals left in the wild.
What happens when they’re not “working”?
When the macaques are not being used for photo opportunities, they are kept in small metal boxes like the ones in the photo below. These boxes get very hot in the sun and do not give the macaques anywhere near enough space to move around. They are often kept alone in the boxes; this is extremely detrimental for animals that normally live in groups of up to 70 individuals.
How are they trained?
Barbary macaques are wild animals (like other primates, big cats and bears, for example), not domesticated like dogs and cats. This means that training them very often involves force, such as beatings, to make them submit to being dressed in clothes and made to pose for photos. Once they reach adulthood, this problem only increases.
What can you do to help?
Never have your photo taken with a Barbary macaque photo prop. What seems like just a quick, fun experience for you actually has long-term effects by keeping the trade going. It’s okay to say no!
Never offer to buy a Barbary macaque to rescue it from the trade. This will only result in the handler having enough money to buy several more macaques from the poachers who take them from the wild.
If you are on holiday with an organised tour, complain to your tour organiser. Tour companies can have a big impact if they stop taking their groups to see photo prop animals.
If you are an independent tourist, complain to the local tourist board to let them know that this kind of thing isn’t enjoyable for you or for the macaques.
Spread the word on social media to let everyone know that photo prop macaques suffer, and that posing for a photo with them contributes to the cruelty.
The Just say No campaign
We are using social media to tell people why we will never have our photograph taken with a Barbary macaque in Marrakech, and we welcome you to do the same. Here’s what you need to do.
- Write on a piece of paper of card ‘I don’t pose with Barbary macaques in Marrakech because…‘, and state your reason. You can see examples on our Facebook page. Use any language you want – English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German…it’s up to you!
- Take a selfie (or get someone to take a photo for you if you prefer) holding your message.
If you want, you could take a video instead of a photo, and say your message out loud!
- Upload your photo or video to Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #justsayno. You can let us know it’s there by tagging Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation, or by posting it to our page. We will then share it by adding it to our Keep Them Wild gallery.