Mauritius is synonymous with tourism, vacations, exoticism. A remarkable economic success in this geographic area. Success, but at what cost? Biodiversity is suffering, and the country is a major supplier of lab monkeys. Many voices are raised against their conditions of detention.
The market was launched on the island in the 1990s with the introduction of the crab monkey (Macaca Fasicularis). This monkey from Southeast Asia is particularly prized by vivisection laboratories. However, it poses a threat to other species when introduced into an exogenous environment. That is why it is now strictly prohibited to release this species in Mauritius. The solution is therefore to raise it in captivity.
In practice, six companies share exports to countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Spain, USA, United Kingdom and Singapore. Some are part of powerful local groups like CIEL with its subsidiary Noveprim ltd or Biodio Co Ltd which planned to breed around 9,000 monkeys in 2011. In all, 10,000 monkeys leave Mauritius every year in the holds of tourist planes, making the island the largest The world’s second largest producer of animals for vivisection.
SaveurMonkeys versus Novprim
The Noveprim Ltd site located at Le Vallon in Ferney looks more like an entrenched campground than an ordinary cattle ranch. Behind these tightly guarded fences, lab-imposed size selection leads to large cullings in adults, males and females. As with any intensive farming in an environment foreign to the natural environment, mortality and disease are numerous.
The local association FlavorMonkeys, a member of the nebulous British anti-vivisection BUAV, denounces these breeding conditions. Its local representative reports finding many monkeys in garbage cans, defying all rules of hygiene, traceability and respect for animal life.
In June 2011, SaveourMonkeys had criticized the company BioCulture (Noveprim’s competitor) using shocking images of abused monkeys. The companies in question defend their obligation to maintain production without an epidemic, remembering the slaughter of entire herds during epidemics of mad cow or avian flu.
A few months ago, the CIEL group, founder of Noveprim, partially gave up the activity to sell it to the Covance UK group, which specializes in medical research. The branches of this group run from Switzerland to Singapore via South America and Africa. Covance has more than 1,100 customers and reports more than 2.5 million tests a year and $2 billion in revenue – its production of animals, including rabbits, dogs and mice. The company was highlighted by several animal protection associations for practice animal abuse.
Communitarianism and Arrangements
Novprim is managed by Bruno Julienne. With an MBA from the Grenoble School of Business, he came to the head of the company after a career in the sugar industry. The sugar industry where CIEL and the Dalais family are present on the island, a member of the group being the president of the local union. During the 2010 presidential campaign, Michael Ahneedefender of the movement Resistance and Alternative, declared that the island’s scourge lay in its communitarianism. The current electoral system thus provides for the appointment of 8 “corrective” deputies to preserve the balance between communities. An unfortunate consequence: this organization created a division of activities according to the communities, each one taking care not to interfere with the other through different agreements.
A thorn in island communication
This is how the lucrative monkey trade is protected in Mauritius. However, local newspapers and television are working to reveal the reality to the population in an attempt to challenge the elected on this delicate issue. Between economic and ethical realism, the island would have everything to gain from not seeing its paradisiacal image tarnished by such a scandal. For now, the only clearly expressed political support comes from Maneka Gandhi, the famous Indian politician from the Nehru-Gandhi family. His voice could be decisive in the island’s Hindu community. And finally, spark a real debate.