NABR Files Expanded Petition Challenging the Listing of Long-Tailed Macaques by the IUCN

Long-tailed Macaque Conservation Status Challenge

Working with recognized, independent scientists, the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) filed an expanded petition today with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) challenging the designation of the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) as “endangered” or “vulnerable” under IUCN listing criteria. 

On October 12, 2023, the IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee accepted NABR’s initial petition challenging the IUCN’s 2022 designation of long-tailed macaques as “endangered.” NABR’s initial petition, filed with the IUCN on September 11, 2023, concluded that the underlying scientific justification for the Endangered listing is “biased” and “not based upon the best available scientific information.”

Prior to July 2022, long-tailed macaques were designated as “vulnerable” by the IUCN. In 2022, the IUCN revised its designation to “endangered” based upon a scientific review published by Hansen et al. (2022).1 The expanded NABR petition now calls for the IUCN to vacate both the “endangered” and “vulnerable” listings until “a new status assessment of M. fascicularis is conducted by truly independent scientists not involved in advocacy roles for the target species.”

The expanded NABR petition follows a recent publication in The American Journal of Primatology, a prominent scientific journal, that reviews scientific information used to determine the conservation status of the long-tailed macaque.2 This publication concludes that “none of the published literature cited to support the IUCN listing as Endangered presents any data to support the hypothesized decline, nor does the literature establish that the species is at risk of becoming extinct.”

“The NABR scientific review team is pleased that the IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee will now objectively review this matter,” stated Dr. Ray Hilborn, a world-renowned scientist and member of NABR’s scientific review team. 

“Given the misrepresentation of the data that has occurred in the 2022 and 2020 assessments, we expect that the IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee will agree with our conclusions” added Dr. Hilborn.

The submission of NABR’s expanded petition initiates a formal process with the IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee to review available scientific information concerning the species’ status under IUCN protocols.

Long-tailed macaques are the most widely used non-rodent species for drug development as well as for drug safety and efficacy testing. They are also extensively used in cancer research, immunology science, regenerative medicine and genetic disease research.

Long-tailed macaques are considered as an invasive species in many countries including Hong Kong3, Indonesia4,5, Mauritius6, Papua New Guinea,7 and Thailand8. For decades, Asian and African countries have bred specific pathogen free long tailed macaques and exported them to the United States and other countries for biomedical research in laboratories. 

“The NABR petition and 2023 article published in The American Journal of Primatology demonstrate that long-tailed macaques are neither endangered nor vulnerable, but rather a highly invasive species that thrives in the majority of countries where they live,” stated Matthew R. Bailey, president of the National Association for Biomedical Research.

“We call upon the IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee to vacate the improper listing of this species as either endangered or vulnerable and undertake a new status assessment of this species by independent scientists.”


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