Coconut oil and meat are extremely popular for all sorts of purposes; given coconut can improve heart health by providing healthy short chain and medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) which are essential to good health, it also tastes delicious and coconut oil is extremely moisturising as well as good to cook with, it’s no wonder that coconut based products are becoming increasingly popular.
With this extra demand for coconuts, an unexpected victim has emerged – Monkeys. Southern Pig-Tailed Macaques to be exact.
These beautiful animals have a very intricate social structure and hierarchy and are highly intelligent. They are also good climbers and have dexterous hands – and this is their downfall. There is a chance that the coconut products you are consuming came from a monkey being forced to pick them.
According to the Bangkok Post male monkeys can harvest an average of 1,000 coconuts per day, while females can harvest 600 – however humans can only pick around 100-200 coconuts per day. “It would be difficult to find a coconut product made in Thailand that wasn’t picked by a monkey,” said Arjen Schroevers of the Monkey Training School in Surat Thani, Thailand.
Mr Noi uses Macaques to collect coconuts at his plantation and he also uses them to work at other plantations and offers training for those who already own monkeys. The monkeys at Mr Noi’s work from 8am to 5pm, stopping only for a short lunch break. When they are not working, they are chained to tree stumps. Sometimes, he admitted, the monkeys are so tired from picking coconuts that they faint.
The big profit lies in selling trained monkeys. Whilst they can be purchased for 6,000 baht (£110), a well-trained monkey can be resold for tens of thousands of baht.
Monkey Training Schools are often in fact shows where the animals are forced to perform circus tricks for tourists. Visitors can pay 200 baht (£3.66) to watch monkeys ride bicycles, perform push-ups, shoot basketballs through hoops, collect coconuts and untie ropes from the audience’s hands, among other tricks.
Most of the monkeys used were captured from the wild, despite Pig-tailed macaques being protected animals under the 1992 Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act.
“When you look at the monkey training, many of the schools claim that it’s the culture. But since most of them are using [the monkeys] as a tourist show, it’s not really the culture any more,” Mr Noi said.
Read more about Thailand’s use of captive Monkey’s to pick coconuts
It is not just Thailand abusing Monkeys in this way, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and India also use Monkeys to harvest coconuts.
See our list of UK companies who DO NOT use Monkeys to pick coconuts
The fantastic sanctuary Animal Place have compiled a list of US companies that do not use Monkeys to pick coconuts: