While living in Indonesia for a month, I discovered an evil side of the trade market industry that I hadn’t known existed in Bali: capturing of wild monkeys for trading purposes. If you’ve visited the Bird Market in Bali’s capital of Denpasar, you may have already witnessed this.

I spotted monkeys heavily chained up, locked in cages in direct sunlight, desperately squealing when they’d see tourists with water bottles in their hands and energetically begging for water from the confines of their cage. Witnessing this broke my heart. I would have purchased all the monkeys in their cages, only to set them free in a nearby forest, but it is widely known that tourists often do this daily, only for the owners to continuously go out into the forest and capture them again.

It’s a vicious cycle, and one that we need to stop. In Indonesia, thousands of monkeys are being captured from their native habitats, away from their tribes, and are then either shipped overseas laboratories for research, eaten, chained up, or kept in cages for extended amounts of time with no food or any source of water.

There is no legislation to protect pig-tailed and long-tailed macaques from exploitation and abuse.

The best way to create change is to inspire new thought patterns. Although there is little we can do as tourists, here are some tips for helping captured monkeys.

Tips for Helping Captured Monkeys

  • Do not buy the monkeys in the trade market. This only encourages the funding and enabling of illegal wildlife trade.
  • Sneak some monkeys food and water.
  • Talk about it. Tell the shop owners how you feel, create noise about this issue. Make drama.
  • Donate and/or volunteer to supporting non-profits who are working to stop this trade.

These animals have no voice and no power, unless humans help them. Luckily, there is the Macaque Rescue team with International Animal Rescue that is helping to rescue Indonesian monkeys from abuse and captivity.

Animal International Rescue

“Our work helping macaques in Indonesia has a number of key aims: to improve the lives of individual animals through our rescue, rehabilitation and release programme at our primate centre in Ciapus, Java; to increase understanding and tolerance of macaques among local communities through education; to raise awareness of the dangers of keeping macaques as pets and the risk of zoonotic diseases; and to campaign to win macaques some legal protection in Indonesia.

Our team rescues macaques which have often spent years in captivity. After rescue, veterinary check-ups and a period in quarantine, their rehabilitation can begin in earnest. This involves working hard to remind these animals that they are wild, since most have spent their lives as pets, away from their own species, consuming human food and behaving in a way that is not normal in the wild. It requires a specific diet and feeding pattern that will make them work for their food – something they must learn if they are to survive.”

There are many ways we can help these animals: educate, volunteer, inform, and mostly, make a donation to help continue to fund International Animal Rescue so they may continue to rescue these animals from abuse.

If you visit Indonesia, or anywhere in Asia where this pet trading is being practiced, call them out on it. Make a big deal. Don’t stop and ignore what you’re seeing. Give the monkey some food and water and start telling everyone you know about this practice. We are the only voice these animals have, and it’s time we start spreading awareness about it.



Help Rescue the Macaque Monkeys from the Indonesian Trade Market

February 15, 2017


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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical moments through my lens and my pen. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I'm inspired to share the light around me. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.