Just over six months after submitting its application to the Ministry of the Environment, Biosphere Trading Ltd obtained the green light to proceed with its large-scale primate breeding project.
On April 16, the Ministry of Environment endorsed the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) license of Biosphere Trading Ltd. She can thus implement her plans.
She plans to increase the capacity of her long-tailed monkey farm by ten. These are highly valued in the world of medical research. They are intended for laboratory experiments.
The company has been based in Closel in Tamarind Fall, a kilometer from the road leading to Grand-Bassin, since the early 2000s. It operates a farm of 800 primates. Its ambition is to grow to a colony of 7,500 monkeys within a few years. Because it wants to export 1,500 a year. To that end, she plans to triple the size of her farm from four to twelve acres. It will thus become the main creation of its kind in Mauritius.
These monkeys, specifies the company, in its file deposited with the Ministry of the Environment, will only be bred to be exported to laboratories. It is “for the purpose of biomedical research, thus contributing to the global war against disease and suffering that afflicts humanity as a whole”. The company’s main markets are the United States and Canada.
Huifang Chen, a surgeon trained at the University of Montreal Hospital Center and owner of other farms around the world, chairs Biosphere Trading Ltd.
To start this second phase of its development, the company will expand its infrastructure.
To this end, it intends to involve the community by providing landowners and their occupants with traps to capture unwanted monkeys that enter their properties. Then Biosphere Trading Ltd will offer to buy them. In his file, the prosecutor specifies that “the methods that will be used to capture the primates will be humane and will cause minimal stress to the animals.”
However, the company will not buy any primates. Thus, the Grand-Bassin monkeys, for example, will be rejected, as they have been exposed to all sorts of infectious diseases in contact with humans.
Biosphere Trading Ltd also claims that the capture and rearing of primates will be done under humane conditions and in accordance with internationally accepted standards. These are in line with the guidelines of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the International Primatological Society.
Primate farming has been done in Mauritius for over three decades. A handful of companies have specialized in this field for an industry worth around Rs 800 million a year. Currently, Biosphere Trading Ltd is among the smallest in Mauritius.
Animal protection associations often revolt against these Mauritian farms and regularly call for a boycott of the Mauritian tourist destination. However, the Cyno Breeders Association, which brings together most of Mauritius’ primate breeding companies, responded a few months ago. She highlighted that the long-tailed macaques of Mauritius have played a key role in the search for vaccines against Covid-19.
However, in late October, several international NGOs, including Action for Primates, Progress Science Mauritius, One Voice and Animal Rights, called on Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth to end the export of monkeys from Mauritius. They also asked permission not to be granted to Biosphere Trading Ltd to expand their activities. In vain.
Monkey Farming: A Necessary Evil
The use of animals for scientific purposes is a sensitive subject in Mauritius. For several years, animal advocates have campaigned against the capture and breeding of monkeys. But for professionals in the field, long-tailed monkeys help in research to cure humanity.
Raising animals for research is an evil that plagues the country. This is what the Bois-Rouge All Lives Matters association makes clear. Its manager, Laurena Gaus, believes there is an alternative to this practice. For her, by capturing monkeys, companies disturb the country’s fauna and flora. She adds that it is sad that Maurício is a world reference in the capture and breeding of laboratory monkeys. For his part, Nada Padayachy, one of the leaders of the Cyno Breeders Association, points out that the Mauritian monkeys are at the origin of the discovery of vaccines against Covid-19.
They have been used by labs like Pfizer and Moderna. In addition, Mauritian monkeys are being used in research to cure cancer and conclusive results will be announced soon, he adds.