For the first time ever, IPPL was recently able to obtain data on (of all things) primate trophy hunting! Yes, it still happens.

As IPPL Executive Director Shirley McGreal says, “We are more familiar with U.S. trophy hunters going to Africa to shoot elephants, lions, and antelopes. But quite a few add monkeys to their ‘bags.’”


This beautiful vervet monkey says: “I am not a trophy!”
© Ryszard Laskowski |

Last month, Shirley was able to obtain U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data concerning monkeys who were killed on safaris overseas and then imported into the U.S. as trophies in 2012. There were 852 “specimens.”

We shared the data with primatologist Linda Wolfe, who crunched some numbers for us (see the tables below).

Interestingly, there is little information on most of the U.S. importers (whether individuals or businesses), but we do have the names of all the foreign exporters. They have names likeHighveld Taxidermists, African Wildlife Artistry, Chifuti Safaris, and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (!). As Shirley observed, the primates who were killed of course remain nameless.

Linda also checked out the Web sites of some of these exporters. She said that, after a monkey is killed by a hunter on safari, the animal’s body may be dipped into a solution to stop putrefaction and then shipped to the U.S. to be processed by a U.S. taxidermist. Otherwise, the body may be taken to a taxidermist near the safari site and processed there. Once the carcass has been transformed into a “trophy,” the taxidermist ships the dead animal to the U.S. customer.

The most commonly hunted monkey is the chacma baboon. This is the species that Rita Miljo, founder of the C.A.R.E. Baboon Sanctuary in South Africa, worked for years to protect before her tragic death in a fire last year.

It is also interesting to note that nearly a fifth of the specimens are vervet monkeys. A large male could weigh 18 pounds. That’s the size of a large house cat. But I suppose part of the appeal is that monkeys are cheaper than other game. One safari Web site Linda found quoted prices: “A dead monkey is $150, a lion (or other large cat) is up around $8,000.” On another Web site that Shirley found, the price for a baboon was listed as a mere $50, while a bull elephant could set you back as much as $18,500.

Vervet monkeys happily checked out Shirley’s vehicle while she was on safari in Uganda a few years ago.

Vervet monkeys happily checked out Shirley’s vehicle while she was on safari in Uganda a few years ago.

And I expect it’s not that hard to shoot many of the primates in the USFWS database, either. Most of the species have made some adaptations to living around humans. Shirley, for instance, saw a nonchalant troop of baboons at very close range on a (photo) safari she took in Uganda a few years back. Elsewhere en route, she and her traveling companion at the time (the noted primate advocate Linda Howard) were charmed by some especially cheeky vervet monkeys who had no qualms investigating their vehicle.

I don’t why some people’s reaction is to shoot them.

How sad that this kind of barbaric behavior still has currency.

If you are interested in the complete 2012 primate trophy data set, please contact us at


Number of Trophy Primates Imported Into the U.S. in 2012
Common Name      Scientific Name      Number     Percent   
chacma baboon Papio ursinus 534 63
vervet monkey Chlorocebus pygerythrus   156 18
yellow baboon Papio cynocephalus 84 10
olive baboon Papio anubis 51 6
miscellaneous various species* 19 2
hamadryas baboon     Papio hamadryas** 8 1

* 1 patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas), 1 moustached guenon (Cercopithecus cephus), 1 blue monkey (Cercopthecus mitis), 11 grivets (Chlorocebus aethiops), 2 mantled monkeys (Colobus guereza), 1 gelada (Theropithecus gelada), 1 crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) and 1 unspecified baboon species. Common names and scientific names are those assigned by the USFWS.

** “Interestingly,” Linda notes, “the country of origin for 2 hamadryas baboons is Zimbabwe and 3 hamadryas are listed as originating from South Africa. As far as is known, hamadryas baboons are not native to either Zimbabwe or South Africa. One Cercopithecus mitis (blue monkey) is listed as originating in Ethiopia.”

Source Countries
Country Number   Percent  
South Africa 428 50
Zimbabwe 192 23
Namibia 72 8
Tanzania 66 8
Zambia 48 6
Mozambique 17 2
Ethiopia 11 1
miscellaneous* 11 1
Central African Republic    7 0.8

* Botswana (3), Benin (2), Cameroon (2), Canada (1), Indonesia (1), France (1), and New Zealand (1).

Primary Ports of Entry (49 or More Trophies)

Port   Number   
New York 215
Chicago 141
Houston 131
miscellaneous* 117
Dallas/Fort Worth   80
San Francisco 66
Atlanta 49
Seattle 49

* Los Angeles (32), Portland (18), Baltimore (14), Miami (17), Denver (16), New Orleans (8), Anchorage (3), Detroit (2), Newark (2), Boston (1), and 2 unknown cities (4).

Names of the Most Frequent Exporters of Trophy Monkeys
Name   Number  
African San Taxidermy 3
African Trophy Dealers 3
African Wildlife Artistry 5
Bromley Gameskin Tanner LTD 3
Capricorn Taxidermist 3
Chifuti Safaris 6
Chiptani Safari Company 4
Colletts Wildlife Artistry 3
Dennis Doherty Taxidermists 3
Highveld Taxidermists 3
Just Africa 3
Karoo Taxidermy 3
Mangomba Safaris Limited 3
Nylstrom Taxidermy 3
Pro Safaris 6
Safari Air Services 4
Safari Taxidermy 6
Swift Dip Taxidermy 5
Tam Farms 3
Tanzania Big Game Safaris LTD 3
Taxidermy Africa 4
Taxidermy Enterprises (PVT) LTD 5
Trans African Taxidermists 3
Zambezi Hunters 3