This update is part of a joint campaign by Lady Freethinker, Action for Primates, and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia.
Macaques in Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple are still being harassed by people who film their distress and then post the videos for views on social media, as revealed in new research by Lady Freethinker, Action for Primates, and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia.
Following an investigation and campaign by the animal welfare organizations that exposed widespread harassment and abuse of macaques, Cambodian officials announced in October 2022 that they would take legal action against anyone abusing the animals, saying:
“In order to maintain the harmony of wildlife in Angkor Park, we would like to request the cooperation from the public and relevant authorities working together to prevent all these inappropriate activities that have been negatively impacting management of Angkor Park, which affects national pride and honor. At the same time, we urge national and international tourists to stay away from the monkeys and wildlife to avoid any harm…We will also take legal action against those who have committed crimes against monkeys and other wildlife in Angkor Park without exception.”
However, videos uploaded to YouTube and Facebook since this announcement show that monkeys are still being picked up, carried around, relentlessly stalked, forcibly separated from one another, fed food and cartons of milk, and continuously have cameras in their faces, as highlighted in a new investigative report and video compilation by the nonprofits.
Recent footage also shows that the trend of abandoning “pet” monkeys in the temple complex is increasing. This callous abandonment is irresponsible and potentially dangerous as it disrupts social groups and puts the deserted monkeys at serious risk of injury or death.
“The footage is clear – video operators continue to harass the macaques for the sole purpose of ‘entertainment’ and making a profit,” said Nina Jackel, founder and president of Lady Freethinker. “It’s crucial that Cambodian officials live up to their promises and take legal action against anyone who harms these magnificent animals.”
The nonprofits are calling on APSARA, the national authority that oversees the temple, to take the promised enforcement action against anyone who intentionally harms or harasses macaques – without exception.
“For the sake of the monkeys and the safety of the public, we urge APSARA to fulfill the pledge it made and intervene to stop this inhumane, unlawful persecution and exploitation of the macaques at Angkor Wat,” said Sarah Kite, co-founder of Action for Primates. “Please sign our petition if you haven’t already, and share it with your friends and family!’’
Shaz Daisy Torrance of Stop Monkey Abuse Asia added the abandonment of macaques also warrants government action.
“The treatment and abandonment of former ‘pet’ macaques in the temple complex is cruel and inhumane,” Torrance said. “They deserve freedom and a chance to return to a life in the wild.”
It’s crucial that Cambodian officials do more to protect these incredible animals. Please sign the petition if you haven’t yet!