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Reflections from the Field: Joint Meeting of IPS and MPS 2023, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

In a sobering talk presented at the joint conference of the International and Malaysian Primatological Societies in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia by Dr. Anna Holzner (from the University of Leipzig), the audience learned that the southern pig-tailed macaque monkey, the primate species that we breed at WaNPRC, is facing immediate and long-term threats in pigtail habitat countries such as peninsular Malaysia. According to Dr. Holzner, many of the forests are being converted to oil palm plantations. To adapt to these environmental changes, pigtails travel into the plantations and forage, putting them at increased risk of predation and exposure to pesticides. These immediate risks are compounded by the long-term impacts on lifespan resulting from changes in social structure and behavior that occur because of foraging in the plantations. (

The Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) is deeply committed to capacity building and conservation of primates across the globe through the work of our Global Conservation Education and Outreach unit (GCEO) established in 1999. The International Union for Conservation of Nature recently upgraded the classification of the southern pig-tailed macaque to endangered based on the projected decline in population. Noting IUCN criteria specifically indicates, “Population reduction projected, inferred or suspected to be met in the future (up to a maximum of 100 years).”

WaNPRC’s GCEO, along with our partners at the Primate Research Center at IPB University (IPB) in Bogor, Indonesia are leading the effort to collect data on the distribution and population of southern pig-tailed macaque monkeys.  We at WaNPRC remain committed to this effort and will continue to work hard on behalf of these animals. We are hopeful that our collaborative efforts aimed at understanding the pig-tailed macaque in habitat countries combined with our deep knowledge of these animals from our years of experience breeding and caring for them, will help ensure these precious animals stay vital in their native habitats.