Memorandum by The Mauritian Cyno Breeders
Association (CBA) and Noveprim
The Mauritian Cyno Breeders Association (CBA)
is a registered association regrouping all the Cynomolgus monkey
breeders in Mauritius.
The CBA wishes to express its views on the proposed
revision of the european directives for the supply and use of
NHPs in scientific procedures, and mainly the restriction for
the use of second off-spring generations (F2).
Mauritius exports over 4,000 macaques to the
EU every year. The production of F2 in Mauritius, as requested
in articles 9 and 27 of the directive, if imposed, will generate
a number of long term consequences which we wish to bring to your
The macaque is not indigenous to Mauritius and
is considered by the National Conservation Authorities to be a
nuisance to the environment: indigenous rare birds (destruction
of nests and eggs), endemic trees (destruction of slow maturing
fruits) and crops (sugar cane and vegetable crops). To date the
Mauritian authorities have been encouraging breeders to trap from
the wild as a means of controlling the population of macaques.
For many years now a number of foreign NGO's have also been spending
large amounts of money for conservation of indigenous species
Well managed trapping of monkeys for breeding
purposes does not raise serious animal welfare concerns in the
light of current breeding and animal care practices. The Cynomolgus
macaque is known to be highly adaptable to captive conditions
when used for breeding purposes.
An increase in the wild macaque population in
Mauritius would have a serious impact on agriculture and indigenous
fauna and flora, and this may lead to control by culling or hunting.
2. PROBLEMS RELATED
OF F1 MACAQUES
FOR F2 PRODUCTION
We believe that very few breeding centres in
the world have the experience of F2 generation and their physiological
In Mauritius, a program to increase F2 production
has resulted in health and productivity problems, such as:
Higher incidence of obesity.
Earlier onset of Type II Diabetes.
Higher rate of infanticide/aggression
by F1 males.
An increase of abandoned babies, malnutrition
and generally improper infant care from F1 breeders.
F2 production is thus much slower than anticipated
Of lower reproductive rate of the females.
Breeders have to be replaced at an earlier
age than anticipated because of premature ageing.
Breeding from F1 females will increase inbreeding,
especially in Mauritius where the original wild colony came from
a few individuals only. We cannot forecast the effect of inbreeding
with F1 breeders on the long term. Several problems have been
experienced with small Mauritian F1 colonies and it is too early
to know whether these will be manageable on a larger scale.
3. WELFARE ISSUES
The advantages of F2 as regards animal welfare
A significant increase in the number of animals
to be kept in captivity will be necessary to produce the same
number of offspring.
In most of the cases, experimental protocols
require both genders in equal proportion. Because a significant
number of females need to be set apart to replace retired breeder
females, there will be a surplus of males which cannot be absorbed
by research laboratories. These excess unsaleable males will need
to be euthanised.
4. LEAD TIME
A fast transition to F2 breeding will have a
serious impact on availability of animals for research over the
It would take several years to produce F2 offspring
in the same quantity as the F1 offspring presently produced and
As stated above, a program to increase production
of F2 animals generated several breeding and management problems
and this has lead to a pessimistic forecast as regards sole production
From our experience it appears that the young
feral female is a better mother to its first offspring. The first
baby from a captive F1 breeder is seldom viable. The F1 breeder
therefore has to be sustained for at least five years before being
At present the demand for F2 offspring is insignificant
and mainly confined to the UK. F2 offspring produced in Mauritius
are presently sold together with the F1 without distinction. Demand
for F1 animals cannot presently be fulfilled, making it difficult
for breeders to keep significant numbers of F1 offspring and mature
them for breeding.
F2 production leads to lower availability of
F1 females for research and thus reduces the availability of older,
In order to meet requirements, with F2 animals
only, the total number of captive animals for breeding purposes
would have to be at least doubled. This means that there will
be a serious shortage of monkeys for research for several years
while the number of F1 breeders is being increased.
As the breeding colonies will have to be extended
to generate sufficient F2 animals for the EU, the price of monkeys
in EU will increase seriously as a result of increased costs.
Should Mauritian breeders have to move to F2
breeding, the substantial cost increases would be passed on the
users in the EU. These costs increases may result in primate research
leaving the EU, with negative effects on pharmaceutical and biotechnology
Higher costs are due to:
F1 females being kept longer before they
can produce offspring: the first saleable offspring requires six
to seven years lead time from the date when the F1 female is selected.
F1 females kept for breeding reduce the
number of saleable females and further, the male that would be
sold as a pair becomes unsaleable, ie a 50% loss of income.
6. QUALITY OF
The members of the CBA in Mauritius have become
world reputed breeders and suppliers of high quality Cynomolgus
monkeys. The main reasons why laboratories buy Mauritian macaques
Mauritius macaques have the unique advantage
of being naturally SPF, and are sought after for health and safety
reasons as they do not carry the Herpes virus simiae, which can
be fatal to humans. This is important to reputed laboratories
committed to the protection of their employees. Mauritian macaques
are also naturally free from SRV, SIV, STLV, rabies and a number
of other contaminants.
Mauritian breeders have put the accent
on quality, most of them are AAALAC accredited today and follow
European animal welfare and care recommendations.
Mauritian breeders have long established
supplier relationships with reputed European biomedical laboratories.
7. OUR POSITION
There is no commercial interest to produce F2
animals; the only interest is the knowledge of the technique required
for F2 production.
The alternatives available to Mauritian breeders
Turn to other markets which will continue
to use F1 animals.
Maintain small F1 breeders' colonies
which have little economic impact on the company.
Increase the price of saleable animals
to compensate for unusable males.
The Association strongly believes that moving
to closed F2 producing colonies will have a detrimental consequence
on the research community, both in terms of price and animal quality.
The consequences on the Mauritius eco-system
will also be serious in that rare birds and plants, already on
the verge of extinction, will have to face an increasing number
We thank you for your consideration.
6 May 2009
OPINION OF NOVEPRIM ON THE USE OF PRIMATES
OF F2 GENERATION IN RESEARCH
The objective of this document is to demonstrate
the consequence of the transition to F2 generation for the use
of primates in research, from a Mauritian breeding perspective.
This opinion is supplementary to the letter from CBA addressed
to the House of Lords on 06 May 2009 (see CBA letter annexed).
Every year, approximately 4,000 Mauritian macaques
(Macaca fascicularis) are exported to the EU Laboratories. 60%
are supplied by Noveprim.
Our housing structures, sanitation and health
care programs are regularly assessed in order to be in strict
conformity with EU and international standards. The different
systems we use to ensure high quality include: ISO 9001 and British
Home Office certification since 1998, AAALAC accreditation in
2006, and the Noveprim Ethics Committee complying with the US
norms created in 2006.
We believe that the financial implications relating
to the production of F2 has not been taken into account in the
Impact Assessment in reviewing directive 86/609.
The transition from the breeding of F1 to F2
generation means that we must build new accommodation facilities,
keep and look after young animals for a longer period of time;
more so that we cannot dispose of them.
The cost of the whole project would include:
Structural and operational investments
estimated at Euros 50 millions for the entire Mauritian breeding
industry, which represents two years revenue.
A reduction of the number of animals
available for laboratory research.
A 50% increase on the price of one macaque
compared to the price of a macaque of the previous generation.
These significant investments are concomitant
to a substantial decrease in the revenue and there is no guarantee
If the laboratories decide to take the responsibility
of the expected investment, the purchase of one macaque would
cost them approximately 10,000 Euros at a certain time, and this
equates to three times more than the present price. It is highly
improbable that the laboratories would support this venture.
It is therefore highly unlikely that, without
financial assistance, the breeders would commit themselves to
a strategic venture which is so complex (the know-how of F2 macaque
breeding is still very poor), so costly and uncertain. They would
prefer to explore other markets.
Moreover, big pharmaceuticals companies and
research institutions have already embarked on a process of relocation
outside the European Union and they have requested us to export
our monkeys to these destinations. The revised EU directive would
encourage the research centres to access these markets and more
so as the regulations enforced on animal welfare and sourcing
are much more flexible in these jurisdictions. These countries
are numerous, both in Asia and in the USA.
3. OTHER SALIENT
The production of F2 animals in Mauritius will
not contribute anything in the genetic homogeneity, in as much
as only very few animals were imported to the island from Indonesia,
400 years ago. Since then, nonhuman primates have not been imported
from elsewhere and the Mauritian colony has not been exposed to
other genetics mix. Therefore, its genetic variability is extremely
low. This peculiarity coupled with the excellent health status
of Mauritian macaques is not to be found in any other population
of the same species and this is highly valued by researchers.
The existence of macaques in Mauritius has disastrous
effects on the endemic fauna and flora and on agriculture (see
enclosed report of Dr Greenwood, 2008). The only means for effective
control over savage macaques is capturing them for breeding purposes.
If these practices stopped, the government would have to find
alternative ways to control the population of wild macaques. The
production of F2 will not thus end the practice of capturing wild
macaques in Mauritius.
With regards to this aspect and the previous
one, we are convinced that Mauritius should be considered as an
3.3 Ethics and animal welfare
Noveprim observes the highest standards of care
for the welfare of animals. Its Ethics Committee complies with
rigorous US norms and guarantees the welfare of animals in all
protocols relating to the breeding processes.
We invite your attention to the following negative
impacts that shifting to F2 will have on animal welfare:
Keeping a higher population of animals
in captivity for a longer period of time.
Euthanasia of the undesirable surplus
male population while the F1 females are put in the breeding process.
This will affect few thousands of animals per year in Mauritius.
We are of the opinion that the obligation of
using F2 macaques in the new directive would inevitably have as
primary consequence the de-location of the research institutions
from the European Union, and relocation of same in countries where
the law affords a greater flexibility. As a direct consequence,
the main objective of animal welfare will be compromised.
The logic behind the F2 project is to protect
the species and genetic homogeneity, and yet, this is simply not
applicable to Mauritius.
From a scientific perspective the disparity
that would occur in terms of research between the European Union
and the rest of the world would be enormous.
For the reasons given above, we are confident
that the F2 project would not be unilaterally imposed upon the
European research community.
Kindly note that we are even prepared to discuss
this subject with your experts and we will be pleased to provide
5 May, 2009
CONSERVATION AND THE LONG-TAILED MACAQUE
This report has been generated from my findings
on a short study visit to Mauritius in July 2007. I was able to
discuss the important aspects of both the conservation status
of the Long-tailed macaque population in Mauritius, and the adverse
effects that population may have on endemic Mauritian habitat
and wildlife, with a range of stakeholders. These included two
of the major primate breeding and export companies, colleagues
at Mauritian Wildlife with whom I have worked on Mauritian fauna
conservation for 14 years, officials of the Forestry Service and
the National Parks and Conservation Service (NPCS) and their minister,
the Minister for Agriculture.
Primates are not a part of the endemic Mauritian
fauna. The sole representative found there is the long-tailed
macaque (Macaca fascicularis), which was introduced by
Portugese traders in the 16th or 17th century from its natural
range in South East Asia. The range of the species, which is the
most successful primate in that region, covers most of peninsular
and insular SE Asia, from Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia
to Indochina. It is not found in mainland China per se.
The species has been introduced deliberately to a number of other
islands, including Papua, Palau and Hong Kong, with a view to
establishing controlled populations as sources for research animals,
but in none of these areas has it been as successful as in Mauritius.
In Papua, however, although the population is only about 60 animals
it is already regarded as a severe invasive threat to biodiversity.
The IUCN conservation status of its various
named subspecies, with one exception, is Low Risk/Near Threatened
and the CITES listing is Appendix II. There is no clear estimate
of the world population, but Malaysia alone claims a population
of 740,000 animals. The world total is likely to be in excess
of 2 million. The main conservation threat to the species in its
native range is probably habitat destruction for biofuels. Most
host countries afford it some degree of protection but Malaysia
has recently lifted a ban on capture and export.
The long-tailed macaque is an arboreal, largely
frugivorous, monkey living in varying sized groups, depending
on habitat. Diet also may depend to some extent on habitat, with
crabs and other sea creatures being more important in mangrove
forests. Habitat includes almost any kind of available forest,
and the monkey does well in degraded plantation regrowth from
where it can forage on agricultural crops, to which it is an important
source of damage throughout its range. Macaque populations are
capable of high reproductive rates when not at full carrying capacity,
with rates of 0.1 to 0.9 young per fertile female per year being
recorded in M.fascicularis.
There have been two historical estimates of
the Mauritian population of the long- tailed macaque, one in 1986
and another in 1994, and both arrived at similar estimates of
25-35,000 and 40,000 respectively. These were arrived at by establishing
home range and troop size, or by estimating the density in one
area of habitat and then multiplying up by the available habitat
on the island. There is no evidence that either the population
or the available habitat have changed substantially in the last
20 years, and guestimates offered to me by the two major trapping
companies agreed with a stable population of around 40-50,000
animals. Trapping activity by these two companies has persisted
since 1985 and 1990 and both reported a consistently sustainable
take, based on the sex and age distribution over limited areas
of land. Current annual removal rates are estimated to be around
12%. It is likely that the population remains at or near maximum
carrying capacity for the available forest areas, although there
are signs that secondary forest regrowth is increasing and this
might accelerate with gradual withdrawal of sugar cane production
from more marginal land. Current available monkey habitat covers
about 20% of the island's land area.
There is a captive population of 18-20,000 animals
spread between the three main breeding farms, all of which derive
from the original feral population and subsequent captive reproduction.
Genetic studies of the Mauritian population
suggest a limited founder population and a lack of genetic variability
in areas such as the MHC complex, which actually increases the
attractiveness of the animals for research. There is no indication
that genetic homogeneity is adversely affecting the population.
A very similar situation obtains with the vervet
monkey (Chiorocebus aethiops sabacus) on the Caribbean
island of St Kitts, although the captive population is much smaller
and some 5000 animals a year are harvested from a population estimated,
similarly, at 40-50,000.
The long-tailed macaque has been harvested and
bred in captivity on Mauritius in a controlled way since 1985
to supply the laboratory animal market in Europe, Japan and the
USA. There are three main suppliers with colonies of 6,800, 2,500,
and 9,000 animals, and a fourth trapping organisation has recently
been licensed. The market was originally supplied with wild-caught
animals, but now there is little demand for these (they cannot
be supplied into the UK, for example) and the vast majority of
exported animals are captive-bred on Mauritius. Feral animal capture
is now limited to the requirement for breeding replacements and
for urgent pest control when requested. The annual take of females
is about 4,000 between the three companies and none of these is
exported. This provides for an approximate 10% replacement rate
of breeders plus expansion, helped by a further 10% of captive-bred
females which are retained annually. Males, of course, are caught
as well in about a 60:40 ratio, but few of these are required
for breeding replacements as the usual colony group ratio is 2-3
males to 30-45 females. One company still exports about 1,000
captured males per year, although this is a declining trade. Mother
culls very young or old males, and keeps or releases the rest.
One company felt that they were at maximum trapping effort, as
many areas of degraded forest are too dense for trapping, and
animals become trap shy.
Total annual take is around 6,000 animals. This
is probably sustainable at the higher level of population estimates,
and one company did suggest that the average age of trapped animals
was decreasing slightly, which might suggest either that the population
was growing, or that older animals were gradually being trapped
out. General indications are that the population is stable or
possibly still increasing as new habitat becomes available, but
accurate information is badly needed. Animals are trapped in relatively
local areas, and results may not reflect the island-wide situation.
Trapping success is affected by season and particularly by cyclones.
Worldwide demand for this species is about 50,000
animals per year (although it was estimated at 100-200,000 in
2001), with a particularly high demand for two-year-old animals
of even sex ratio. Mauritius currently supplies 8-10,000 of this
trade from captive-bred stock and Mauritian animals command a
premium because of their natural freedom from most major primate
viruses. There is a 20% price premium for captive-bred over feral
animals. The remainder of the world demand is supplied from South-East
Asia (see below).
The other major trade source of long-tailed
macaques is China. Some animals are bred in colonies established
from wild stock by the Chinese in range states, such as Cambodia
and Vietnam, but there are reportedly many wild caught animals
going directly into the trade, and China holds some 47,000 animals
in breeding colonies which have originated from outside China.
There is also a possibility of Malaysia reentering the trade with
wild-caught animals. The level of take in the natural range is
completely unknown, and no attempt has been made to assess its
There is no evidence that the Mauritian population
is in decline, nor does it appear to suffer numerically from the
current rate of trapping. In the future, unless the trade is adversely
affected by external factors, this is unlikely to change, although
there may be occasional higher pressure if, for example, new licencees
attempt to build up new colonies. If anything, trapping rates
will probably fall as the demand for wild-caught monkeys continues
to fall, and captive-bred output continues to increase. Government,
conservation and agricultural interests are currently more concerned
about the effects of any possible increase than decrease in monkeys.
Consequently, there is an urgent need to establish studies into
the population size, biology and behaviour of the monkeys on the
island. This would allow the development of a management plan
agreeable to all parties.
In worldwide terms, the conservation of the
Mauritius population is not currently of any importance, although
it may become so if the Asian population is devastated for any
reason. The Mauritian population does not have established sub-specific
status, and derives from a low founder base.
Agriculture and the public.
The scale of agricultural damage by monkeys
on Mauritius is considerable, and is likely to increase as more
small to medium scale fruit and vegetable production begins to
replace sugar cane plantations. Sugar cane damage has been estimated
at £1-2 million (10-20 million rupees) a year, and on some
estate plots can reach 1 million rupees alone. Much of the damage
is caused by large troops of monkeys uprooting and damaging young
sugar plants, as well as by actual consumption. This is largely
confined to the edge of plots but, as the cane fields currently
extend right to the edge of existing woodland, this can be considerable.
Small-scale production is almost impossible because of monkey
damage, and whole small farms have been destroyed overnight in
some cases. In these cases there is concern that small farmers
will regard the neighbouring forest as a haven for monkeys and
seek to cut it back from their property.
Even more attractive to the monkeys are fruit
and vegetable plots and, in this case, whole plots are regularly
destroyed, again with far more damage than consumption. Although
the monkey has not yet become an urban pest species as it is in
parts of Asia, suburban plots and gardens can be hard hit, and
the government traps and destroys a number of monkeys following
suburban complaints. Raids always increase in the dry season (July-September)
and this is also the only period when trapping to eliminate damage
is effective, otherwise the monkeys just have too much food available
to risk entering a trap. Although there is no direct reporting
or compensation scheme in place which might allow monkey damage
to be quantified, industry estimates are probably quite accurate.
As the breeding and export companies are partly owned by big sugar
estates, the response to trapping in terms of damage reduction
could probably be determined quite easily. More data are clearly
Direct public injury by the monkeys, unlike
in Asia, is rare in Mauritius but anecdotally increasing, especially
as government has successfully encouraged wider visitor access
to protected forest areas where monkeys flourish, and where public
rest and picnic sites have been established.
Environment and native species
Plantsthe indigenous plant population
of Mauritius includes many extremely rare endemic species of tree
and others which are critical to the re-establishment and renovation
of native forest, which currently occupies 1% of its original
range on the island. Much of the existing native forest is heavily
degraded by overgrowth of invasive alien species. Attempts are
being made to restore forest by weeding out aliens from managed
plots, thereby allowing native tree regeneration. There are seven
mainland protected plots, covering 200 ha which are fenced to
keep out deer and feral pigs, but monkey-proof fences are prohibitively
Monkeys damage the forest in several ways: by
uprooting seedlings, by wastefully damaging and eating the fruit
of native trees before it is ripe enough for the seeds to germinate
(unlike trees in native primate habitat Mauritian endemic trees
have not evolved defence mechanisms against monkeys), by breaking
branches of mature trees and uprooting seedlings, and by spreading
the seeds of invasive shrubs (such as Guava) through their faeces.
WildlifeMauritius is home to some extremely
endangered and iconic bird species, as well as important reptiles,
and these birds are the subject of intensive restoration projects.
The birds are intensively monitored, especially during their breeding
season, so incidents of monkey damage are recorded quite frequently,
and some experimental work has been done. There is no quantification
of the damage, and other alien species are also involved (rats,
mynah birds), but monkeys certainly damage the nests and take
the eggs and nestlings of Pink pigeons, passerines and even Echo
Experimental work has shown that the feral monkeys
show egg-orientation, and this is not seen in captive animals.
It appears therefore to be a learned cultural behaviour in Mauritius.
While the kestrel and the parakeet are not at
such risk, as the kestrel can defend its nest and the parakeet
nests are largely protected against climbers, the pigeon and the
small passerines are extremely vulnerable and there are many field
records of observed predation, and many others where the signs
indicate monkey predation. The damage to pigeons, in particular,
includes tail feather loss in adults, removal of eggs and squabs,
causing of nest desertion by general harassment, and stealing
from feeding hoppers. Passerines, such as Mauritius fodies, suffer
complete nest destruction and have been driven to nesting in non-native
Japanese cedar trees which monkeys find hard to climb.
Any conservation efforts towards the exclusion
or reduction of non-indigenous competing birds is likely to make
the situation worse. In the National Park Bioculture, which has
the trapping concession, is usually requested to trap out small
areas where reintroductions or translocations are taking place,
but with the smaller passerines mammal predation pressure is so
high that all current releases have to take place on rat/monkey
free off-shore islands.
Conservation benefits of the monkey trade
The government has established an "export
tax" on the industry of 75US$ per animal, and this was seen
from the very beginning as a hypothecated tax. A committee within
the Department of Agriculture oversees the distribution of this
money, which is paid into the National Parks and Conservation
Service Conservation Fund at the current rate of around 600,000$
per year, being additional to NPCS core funding. NPCS uses the
money towards its species and habitat work, and also funds some
aspects of the work of Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Unfortunately,
unused money from the find is returned to the Treasury on an annual
basis for general government spending. Any reduction in NPCS core
funding or activities such that it cannot fully use the available
funds may lead to serious amounts of conservation money being
The major monkey supply companies also do conservation
work, led by Bioculture which funds extensive field conservation
and habitat preservation in both Mauritius and Madagascar directly
from monkey-related profit
The degree to which monkey harvesting at its
present scale assists conservation of Mauritian indigenous wildlife
is very hard to quantify, but all interested parties are agreed
that the process is at least keeping the monkey population from
outgrowing the available resources and is thereby preventing an
explosion of competition in the forest. Targeted harvesting, along
with other predator control methods, is certainly beneficial in
the short term to allow newly created satellite populations of
reintroduced birds to become established.
There is no evidence that the monkey trade,
insofar as it involves harvesting of wild macaques on Mauritius,
materially affects the conservation status of the long-tailed
macaque, either worldwide or locally. The local population has
no conservation value to the species as a whole and is indeed
an introduced alien, which in many situations would be a target
for eradication. In the absence of any direct population survey
data, trapping data have to be relied upon. These in general indicate
at least a stable population over a considerable period of trapping
There is no desire in Mauritius to eradicate
the monkeys. They are seen as an established part of the fauna
and are important to the predominant Hindu religion. The export
trade for medical research seems to be generally accepted as beneficial
for the economy and for mankind in general. On the other hand,
there is clear and substantial conservation and agricultural damage
from the monkeys, so there will always be pressure if not to reduce
their numbers then at least to prevent them increasing. There
is also an increasing but as yet limited risk of negative public
interaction with monkeys as people venture more into the forest
There are many and complex competing issues
involving the long-tailed macaque on Mauritius and, in my view,
all of these could be in some way clarified, if not solved, by
a proper population survey of the species, as well as by direct
research to quantify the plant and wildlife damage it causes.
This should be a priority for government, the wildlife organisations
and, above all, the industry. But the harvesting of monkeys for
breeding and export is not a conservation issue per se.
For organising my visit and arranging meetings,
as well as for direct input on the conservation issues, Vikash
Tatayah and colleagues at the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
For information on monkey damage to plants and
animals Jason Maiham and the MWAF Echo parakeet field team, the
MWAF Pink Pigeon field team, and Mr V Tezoo, acting Conservator
of Forests. Mr. Puttoo, Head of NPCS explained much of the background
to the protected area problems.
Mrs Begun, Minister of Agriculture, and Carl
Jones, Scientific Director of MWAF, kindly provided more general
background and historical information.
For hosting me at their farms and explaining
the complete picture of the monkey trapping and export processes,
and for providing numerical data from their records, Owen Griffiths
and Mary Ann Stanley of Bioculture and Bruno Julienne and Noelle
Garnege of Novoprim.
Finally, for initiating the study and financing
the visit, Professor Tim Morris and GlaxoSmithKline.
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23 European demand for macaques in research is estimated
to be less than 15% of the worldwide demand. Back