lunes, 30 de diciembre de 2013




Saving Jakarta’s Dancing Monkeys – Project Summary

The goal of the project is to ensure the implementation of enhanced welfare standards for Indonesian primates, with an initial focus on ending the exploitation of long tailed macaques (macaca fascicularis) in the Jakarta region.

The project has an initial focus on the “Topeng Monyet”, or Dancing Monkeys. This is a particularly cruel practice where juvenile macaques are forced to perform (dance, ride bikes) in the crowded and busy streets of Jakarta. An illegal trade in wild macaques has built up around the phenomena known as “Topeng Monyet”.

JAAN observed a worrying increase in the use of these monkeys on Jakarta streets since 2009 and has started to campaign against this abuse ever since.

Project Background and Problem Definition

Each year, thousands of long tailed macaques are bred and captured from the wild for sale in Jakarta where they face a life of exploitation and cruelty. There are three main fates awaiting macaques: the pet market (including “Topeng Money”), research (export) and food (Indonesian based Chinese restaurants).
Over recent years JAAN has actively campaigned and lobbied to end the exploitation of macaques in Indonesia, in particular those macaques used for the cruel “Topeng Monyet” trade. 

Young macaques are caught from the forests by poachers and sold (the price straight from the trapper is Rp 25.000 or US$2). In Jakarta, for Rp. 70,000 (US$7) a young macaque can be purchased. Macaques are sold in pet shops, bird markets and in front of shopping malls by street vendors. The baby macaques attract people because they look cute and are cheap to purchase. 

The macaques can be seen kept on short chains, on the street and often in front of the owner’s house. While growing up to adulthood, the chain often grows into the skin, leading to horrific infections and tetanus. Macaques are highly social creatures and in need of social contact. Macaques also form potential health hazards in urban areas due to the likeliness of disease transfer.

As a species listed under CITES appendix 2, macaques should be traded with permits only. Even local traders should obtain a permit from the forestry department. In Indonesia, Macaques are trapped, sold and kept without any permits. In Jakarta alone, we encounter many cases yearly where macaques have escaped from their chains and our team is called to capture and relocate the primate. 

Therefore JAAN campaigns ongoing for a total ban to keeping primates as pets in public area. The new regulation formed by governor Jokowi which will prohibit to keep primates in public areas is a very big step towards primate protection and general animal welfare in Indonesia and will end the cruelty now inflicted on thousands of monkeys captured from the wild to be exploited on Jakarta’s busy streets.

JAAN recognizes the need to work in partnership with the people of Jakarta and relevant authorities to ensure long-term sustainable outcomes. 

What have we accomplished so far? 

JAAN took the following steps:

1. Investigation in the industry called ‘Topeng Monyet’ in DKI Jakarta (2009)
2. Meetings with local government (2009, 2010, 2011)
3. Campaign (demonstrations) 2010, 2011)
4. Confiscations of Dancing Monkeys (2011, 2012)
5. Construct facilities and a caretaking team for confiscated monkeys (2011)
6. Organize a workshop for police officials and local government officials, leaded by Indonesia’s veterinary association and JAAN to explain the existing laws we can use to tackle Topeng Monyet (2011)
7. Trainings for government officials in the handling of primates (2012)
8. Coordinate with local Government under the management of Governor Jokowi (2012, 2013); provide a draft for a local regulation to prohibit dancing monkeys
9. Obtain approval for a law to prohibit Topeng Monyet and any placement of primates in public by private owners which will come to force in 2014. 

How did we take these steps?

In 2009, JAAN investigated the Topeng Monyet ‘industry’; Where were they captured originally, where were they kept in Jakarta, who owned the monkeys, who trained the monkeys. It turned out that the increase of the use of dancing monkeys in Jakarta’ streets could be blamed to three big ‘monkey bosses’ who rent out the monkeys to street children. The children have to pay per day an amount to the boss (30,000 until 50,000 Rupiah) and any money they make above this amount is for them. The children develop a debt with the bosses and therefore after a short while are forced to ‘work for free’. This encouraged our team even more to take action as not only the monkeys are being exploited, the children involved clearly are, too.

Secondly another disturbing fact we found was that the monkeys are kept under extreme cruel conditions, chained in small, dark cages and the training of the monkeys, which we witnessed and documented as well, is based on pain and hunger. The video can be found on the JAAN website or rtsp:// for those who wish to learn more about this training process and can stand watching this footage. Here you see training methods such as the monkeys’ feet and hands are tied together to ‘teach’ the monkey to stand up straight. A small stone is placed under the feet of the monkey and the monkey steps from the stone the chain around its neck will choke her/him.

The monkeys’ canine teeth are pulled out with pliers, leaving the monkeys not only in severe pain but also infections. 

When JAAN concluded all the evidence needed about the ‘Topeng Monyet industry’ in Jakarta, JAAN held meetings with the local government Pemda DKI, attended by all parties that should be involved, including the Forestry Department and officials from Jakarta’s health department. This, because there is a big public health risk too, by allowing the monkeys interact with people on Jakarta’s streets. Primates carry diseases that can be transferred to humans and vice-versa, therefore primates bring a risk to public health when openly exposed to humans in public areas. 

Since macaques are still not protected in Indonesia, the forestry department was un-cooperative and uninterested to follow up on our requests to ban Topeng Monyet. The process of catching the baby monkeys from the wild is in fact illegal but legal action has never been undertaken by the forestry department against the capture of long-tailed macaques from Javanese and Sumatran forests. The local government and agriculture department were more interested in the ban and JAAN continued to have meetings with them throughout 2010, while striving to get to Governor Fauji Bowo, as a ban to Topeng Monyet in Jakarta would be the most realistic goal of our efforts. After many un-replied letters, JAAN finally was able to obtain a statement in public by DKI Jakarta’s Fauji Bowo in 2011 that Topeng Monyet should be banned in Jakarta and JAAN could count on help from the local government to confiscate monkeys from Jakarta’s streets. 

Then JAAN organized a workshop for local police and government officials about the existing animal welfare law and other laws that can be used to tackle the Topeng Monyet industry. This workshop proved very succesfull as after this workshop , throughout 2011 and 2012 JAAN confiscated 40 Dancing Monkeys in the area of South Jakarta with the assistance and cooperation of local government officials and police.

The monkey owners were given a warning only and set free; the monkeys and all attributes were seized.
The confiscated monkeys go through quarantine after which they are socialized in specially build socialization cages. The socialization of the monkeys is a hard and long process, especially because we deal with very badly traumatized animals. The team working with the rescued macaques therefore are people experienced with the handling and the behavior of macaques. 

20 percent of all the monkeys we confiscated and cared for proved to be positive to Tuberculosis and even Hepatitis and Leptospirosis was found in two individuals. This high rate of monkeys carrying dangerous diseases shows the dangerous ‘side effect’ of “Topeng Monyet’; spreading diseases. Probably the monkeys obtain the diseases from the people first after which they spread it to the public. So any child coming nearby the dancing monkeys, looking at it because its supposed to be ‘fun’ to watch, is not only exposed to a very bad form of education (that its ok to inflict pain on other beings) but also to various very dangerous and even deadly diseases.
Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 10.06.17 AM
Now, JAAN is striving to obtain a safe release site for the rescued monkeys under our care; we are in need of an island, just as our formed rescued monkeys have been released to; this to enable our team to continuously monitor their condition and health and also to avoid people from re-capturing them. All primates will be sterilized prior release, this to avoid over-population on the island. We wish to provide the rescued monkeys a happy life of freedom in natural surroundings, that’s all. We need to create a new, safe release site to enable us to care for the monkeys that will be handed over to us when the confiscations restart early next year. Only by obtaining a perfect island for the monkeys we create a real solution and we can fully state that the program has succeeded. JAAN therefore seeks sponsorship to obtain the island we wish to use for this purpose. A suitable island, sized 20 hectares covered with primary and secondary forest has already been found. Yet sponsorship is what we seek!

After Jakarta obtained a new governor, Mr Jokowi, the confiscations ended and JAAN had to start meeting again with the local government to discuss the ‘Topeng Monyet’ in Jakarta. Now, JAAN was able to show more data and proof about the health risks the monkeys bring and Governor Jokowi showed committed to put an end to Topeng Monyet in Jakarta, forever. But he demanded that our veterinary team together with the veterinary team from the agriculture department would visit all locations where the monkeys are kept to explain about the new upcoming law and give all the people involved with Topeng Monyet a chance to find an alternative.

The teams will also offer free medical check ups for the people involved with Topeng Monyet as the risk of these people carrying diseases is very high.

By the time the tour has finished, the new law should be undersigned by Governor Jokowi and we should see a total end to the use of Topeng Monyet by the year 2014.

You can help by:

1. Sending us information when you see a Topeng Monyet on Jakarta’s streets (location, date, time and if possible also a picture of the monkey and handler would be very helpful)
2. Help distribute the newly printed leaflets to the monkey handlers; this leaflet in the form of a cartoon explains that a new law will be enacted in 2014 and who the monkey handlers can contact for more information
3. Support JAAN financially
4. If you live outside Jakarta and see ‘Topeng Monyet’ please also report this to us. For now, we can focuss on DKI Jakarta only. We are a small team with limited resources. But its important we have this data.
5. If you live outside Jakarta and want to stop Topeng Monyet in your area, then use our work as an example; follow the same steps and use the newly formed regulation in Jakarta to convince your local government why Topeng Monyet should be banned. Let the success in Jakarta serve as an example, other cities should follow. We know that Bogor and Banding now also deal with a ‘Topeng Monyet Industry’. Organizations or individuals working in those areas could certainly try to do the same and don’t hesitate to contact us, we will support as much as we can!

Alongside JAAN’s network of volunteers, JAAN works in partnership with:

1. Indonesian Agriculture Department;
2. Indonesian Central Forestry Department;
3. Indonesian Veterinary Association
4. Cikananga wildlife center
5. Stichting AAP

The rescue of the monkeys would not have been able without the help and support of the parties named above. JAAN also wishes to thank all the people and organization that sent letters of support and the many online petitions all demanding to ‘halt Topeng Monyet’.

Also big thank you to all the JAAN members as your support makes our work to help animals possible. Very big thanks to Patrick Rouxel whose detailed film named; ‘The Topeng Monyet’ has been extremely helpful in explaining the issue to the public and has over 60,000 hits so far!

Media exposure about the program has been also been ongoing both in national and international newspapers, magazines and even international television like the NOS (dutch headline news), dutch national radio e.o.

And last but not least, thank you JAAN team for the hardwork and dedication! 

Help Jaan Buy Monkey Island !!

Please help JAAN (Jakarta Animal Aid Network) via PayPal: Click HERE.

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