AT the 17th meeting of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), held in South Africa, a motion was passed on September 29 which will give greater protection to the Barbary macaque by moving this endangered species from Appendix II to Appendix 1 on its protection list.
One of the main threats to this primate is that youngsters are popular as pets and this upgrading of their status will give them greater protection from poaching and the illegal pet trade as well as promoting conservation of the species.
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. 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.
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 and there has been an estimated population decline in excess of 50 per cent over the last three generations (24 years).