Culling For Protein And Souveniours

10th July 2010

The problem is that the younger people in the Muslim villages care less about old tradition, or religious beliefs, and they’ll eat monkey meat whenever they can get it. The preferred local ‘tasty’ species are the Spot-nosed monkey, Campbell’s monkey, and the Mangabeys. The expanding appetite for monkey meat has resulted in overhunting in most parts of West Africa and to the depletion of most West African wildlife species.

In Ivory Coast for instance, monkeys have been almost eliminated from all areas except official sanctuaries.

In Ghana the olive Colobus monkey is hovering on the brink of extinction. Western black-and-white Colobus Monkeys had already been wiped out in many parts of Ghana by the mid 1950’s. Although officially protected by the Wildlife Preservation Act of 1961, non-human primates are still being killed at the rate of about one per day in the forest reserves of western Ghana, and were reported to be "heavily poached" outside of protected areas.

In many parts of Africa and Asia, monkey parts are listed among the ingredients of traditional medicines. According to the account of Henry Walter Bates, a nineteenth-century British naturalist and collector, a single group of around 200 Tucano Indians in the upper Amazon consumed the flesh of 1,200 Woolly Monkeys annually. Today in parts of Amazonia, particularly where Indians are settled near mining camps or religious missions traditional hunting tools have been replaced by shotguns, increasing the impact of hunting in those areas. Nevertheless, 200,000 indigenous people living in the forest today probably place only marginal pressures on wildlife. Hunters among the 7.5 million neo-Brazilians in Amazonia, generally mobile and carrying modern weapons, represent much more of a threat to the wildlife than the indigenous forest dwellers.

Meat for the pot is probably the main reason for hunting in the world, but primates are also killed for other reasons. Perhaps most significant is the killing of larger primates for bait to catch fish, turtles, and spotted cats. Necklaces are fashioned from monkey skulls, bones, or teeth and then marketed to tourist.

The tourist shops also sell monkey-tail as dusters and keyrings. Monkey-tail dusters are made from dried monkey tails attached to sticks. The skin of the Howler, Woolly and Spider Monkeys are cut up and fashioned into ornamental brow-bands for horse bridles in Colombia. The large and interesting hyoid apparatus (throat bone and tissue) of the Howler Monkey sometimes serves as a drinking vessel in Colombia where it is part of a folk treatment for goiter disorders.

In some parts of Brazilian Amazonia, drinking from a hyoid cup (howler monkey throat-bone) is considered a good way to ease the pain of childbirth, and in Surinum it is believed to be a cure for stuttering. In Peruvian Amazonia drinking of ground and boiled Howler Monkey hair, is a treatment for coughs.