Conservation of Long-tailed macaques: implications of the updated IUCN status and the COVID-19 pandemic


The often synanthropic long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) is listed in Appendix II of CITES and was recently updated to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The update was highly anticipated, as it can have wide-reaching implications for long-tailed macaque conservation and trade. Long-tailed macaques have suffered from intensive capture for bio-medical research since the 1960s. From 2008-2019, at least 450,000 live long-tailed macaques, and over 700,000 “specimens” from an unknown number of individuals were part of this trade, with over 50,000 termed as wild-caught. These official trade numbers exclude laundering of wild-caught individuals as captive bred, harvesting for breeding center upkeep, their capture for the pet trade, hunting for consumption, and culling due to human-macaque conflicts. With Fooden’s population estimate of 3 million long-tailed macaques in Southeast Asia in 2006, this is likely not sustainable. In some areas, they have already been extirpated because of this trade, as detected by a survey of 200 km of suitable habitat in Cambodia in 2008. Long-tailed macaques are one of the most geographically widely dispersed and adaptable primate species. However, their flexibility and preference for the forest edge draws them to anthropogenic habitats, where their visibility results in assumptions of overabundance , as was demonstrated on Java in 2009 and 2017. Long-tailed macaques face many threats, and there is an urgent need for systematic demographic and range surveys across Southeast Asia, as well as investigation into local, regional and national perceptions of long-tailed macaques. Current conservation foci should include dynamic widespread synanthropic species, such as long-tailed macaques, which are often targets of intensive trade and other threats. Insights from such studies may be critical for effective conservation and management in the 21 st century.


Hansen, M. F., Gill, M., Nawangsari, V. A., Sanchez, K. L., Cheyne, S. M., Nijman, V., Fuentes, A. 2021. Conservation of Long-tailed macaques: implications of the updated IUCN status and the COVID-19 pandemic. Primate Conservation. 35.

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