It is widely known that Ifrane National Park is the main poaching area in Morocco. One of the reasons for this is that there are habituated groups in the forest that are being fed by tourists and are thus much easier to capture for the illegal pet trade.
We have seen an increase in the last year of people coming to the forest and trying to catch the young macaques themselves. In the past most macaques were captured by organised groups of poachers but it is becoming increasingly easy to capture an infant macaque in these habituated groups.
The presence of the Barbary macaque project students and also some of the fossil sellers that are close to these groups during the day has stopped poachers from succeeding to take a macaque from the wild – that shows how important it is to have surveillance over these groups, especially in the summer months.
We want to share 2 cases where Faical Boutlib, an MSc student of the University of Fez, was extremely brave and stopped people from taking infants from the Blue group.
The first case was when 2 Moroccan people came to the Blue group to capture an infant for their children to play with. Luckily Faical was there and he and his friends stopped them and called the authorities. It s unkown if they actualy arrested the people but at least they did not succeed to take the infant.
The 2nd was the case was when 5 Moroccans who live in Spain came and one of them started to climb a cedar tree. Luckily Faical and Nina were there and stopped the poachers. They wanted to take the newborn of a female monkey. Faical took the registration number of the car which was Spanish, and called the authorities. There are rumours that these people were arrested but we do not have a confirmation of that.
We are very worried about this news and MPC is planning on increasing the surveillance in the coming months to guard mainly the habituated groups in the Azrou forest area.