Gateway to Hell (G2H) group was set up in 2006 by a handful animal activists (including Aslihan Gedik, Wild@Life, pictured above holding the protest flag) and had the ultimate goal to save more than 300 rhesus monkeys kept in a breeding farm in Lele, Nepal, destined to vivisection in U.S. The group has done cooperation with other NGO’s as a special coalition around the world, as well as in Nepal. G2H goal was to end vivisection, around the globe and for that the plan was to go to the source of problems itself, without the animals boarding a flight to actually go to a hell in a vivisection laboratory. The campaign took around 3 years, monkeys kept in little cages were kept on suffering. G2H has continuously acted to save these animals. Every week demonstrations were held around the world. A petition, also prepared by Aslihan Gedik, had been signed by thousands of supporters and were delivered to the Nepalese Government. In order to deal the problem, efforts have been made nationally and internationally. About 1200 people from 21 nations signed the petition calling on Nepal to cancel its plans to establish laboratories using rhesus monkeys and to export monkeys. But time was passing and nothing firm had still happened. That is when we decided to bring the case to the Supreme Court of Nepal on the ground that taking monkeys from the wilderness is against the law in Nepal, and the rule should not be extended like this for a US company. Hence, in January 2009, we filed a public interest case at the Supreme Court,” and Aslihan Gedik (Wild@Life Founder) covered the costs for the lawyer in Nepal. Rhesus monkeys are listed as almost endangered in the CITES Appendix II and Nepal is a signatory to the treaty. “The offspring being sent should be scientifically proven to be second generation seed monkeys through DNA analysis,” says Ravi Aryal, wildlife expert and member of the parliamentary committee.
06-09-2009 Gateway to Hell Campaign
VICTORY — Nepal’s government has decided to permanently halt the breeding of monkeys and all the monkeys are to be released from the farms back into the wild!!! We celebrated success in preventing Nepal from entering the fast-growing traffic in exporting monkeys from developing nations to research labs. Around 300 monkeys who were to be exported to the U.S. will be able to find their food in freedom, in their own country. “We have decided not to allow the monkeys to be exported,” announced Nepal forestry minister Deepak Bohara. “After consulting the department heads of the ministry, Bohara came to the conclusion that it was illegal to export the monkeys.” “The law does not permit the export of any wild animals. Thus giving approval to export the monkeys would contravene the law,” affirmed an anonymous ministry undersecretary. “The Ministry has concluded,” the undersecretary told the Kathmandu Post, “that the monkeys should be released to their natural environment.” The monkeys who were to have been exported are the offspring of a wild-caught colony kept at Lele, Nepal. U.S. law forbids the import of wild-caught monkeys, to inhibit the accidental import of diseases caught in the wild. Instead, breeding stock are caught from the wild, and their young are exported. Some sellers have beencaught, however, exporting wild-caught monkeys with the claim that they were captive-bred.
The Nepal Biodiversity Research Center and National Biomedical Research Center, both involved in the monkey breeding scheme behind the scenes, according to Nepalese media, had reportedly long lobbied for permission to begin the exports. However, “In February 2009 a parliamentary committee ordered the ministry to stop the process of exporting rhesus monkeys for biomedical research. “As a first step Shrestha plannedto export 25 of the 300 monkeys to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. Shrestha was breeding the monkeys under the auspices of the Nepal Biomedical Research Center. American citizens who financially supported this venture have now landed in Kathmandu looking for compensation.”
Funded by the Nepal Natural History Society and the Washington Primate Research Center, Shrestha reportedly began developing his monkey business in 2001. He bought about 200 wild-caught monkeys in 2003. “People are catching and selling monkeys to middle men for this purpose at the rate of about $300 U.S. each,”
The Nepalese government had previously banned the export of monkeys after international pressure, with over 50 protests in 13 countries and countless emails being sent to the Nepalese decision makers and anyone else who could influence them. Finally, through the tireless work of the involved NGO’s and groups, and despite American “diplomacy” which at times verged on the point of blackmail, the Nepalese government has accepted the inevitable and decided to close the farms and release the monkeys.
The National Biomedical Research Center in Lele, Nepal
No monkeys were ever exported from Nepal, despite at least one scare when 25 monkeys were less than one week from being transported to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in the United States! This attempt showed the desperation of the Americans and really exposed the importance of the international campaign. For the SFBR to get even 25 of Nepal’s monkeys might have been enough for them to replenish their breeding stocks for 20 years or more. . Thanks to a rapid international mobilization and swift diplomacy on the ground, the monkeys were saved and a petition was made to the Supreme Court of Nepal to outlaw any exports until the legality of monkey farming was decided. After “consultation” Minster Bohara came to the conclusion that it was illegal to export the monkeys, although in reality this decision was forced upon the ministry because the Supreme Court was about to rule that exporting monkeys was not in the “public interest” of the Nepalese people. Faced with either a humiliating defeat or making a popular decision and profiting from the situation, he made the obvious choice.
The most important factor in the Supreme Court’s decision was the image Nepal would portray to potential travelers, and again this was where international solidarity really counted for Nepal’s monkeys! The massive volume of emails being sent from the all over the world and all the visible demonstrations shaming Nepal in front of thousands of passers-by, (especially at the Tourism Expos), was simply too much for them to ignore. The affects of the huge information campaign directed to Nepal’s tourism industry and constructive dialogue with many Nepalese Ambassadors also had a big impact on the decision, and this pressure combined with the persistence and tenacity of the local campaigners in Nepal was more decisive than the American’s threats. With the export ban in place, nearly 400 monkeys had remained caged in the breeding farms awaiting an uncertain future, described as “private property” the Nepalese government claimed they were powerless to act. 6 months after the export ban was imposed, monkey farming has also been banned and all the monkeys from the farms are to be rehabilitated back into the wild!
Whilst this victory in Nepal is an amazing achievement, it should never be forgotten that the battle to save Nepal’s monkeys was about more than the nearly 400 monkeys who will now run free where they belong, or even for their offspring who will now be born into their natural environment. The campaign to save Nepal’s monkeys was an opportunity to strike a savage blow against the global primate research industry where it was weakest. In the American’s own words they admit that their breeding “stock” of “Indian type” rhesus have now become “dangerously inbred” and there is a desperate shortage of fresh DNA to replenish their “stocks”. Nepal represented one of the last few places they could harvest these precious animals and so there can be little doubt the Americans would have turned Nepal into another Mauritius, had they not met such strong resistance. If the current export bans remain in India, Bangladesh and now Nepal, then in a few short years we could finally have removed the precious “Indian type” rhesus monkey, (an entire sub-species), from research labs altogether. Many “scientists” agree that the results from the “Indian type” rhesus often cannot be reproduced in the “Chinese type” rhesus, thus we can hope to see a lot of “research” data invalidated because it can no longer be reproduced due to a lack of suitable victims!
The activists who worked on the Nepal campaign are moving on to other projects and we, as Gateway To Hell campaign, shifted to other projects (among them major prominent airlines) and we have also secured more airlines to sign bans to transport primates to vivisection. G2H has not any website since then, but the fight against the global primate industry continues. Many great victories still lie ahead and many weaknesses are yet to be exploited, however the global primate trade is on our doorsteps and this is where it must also be fought. We will continue to monitor the situations in Nepal and with Air Mauritius closely, and if needs must then the Gateway to Hell campaign will return to action.
G2H was always about taking on the primate supply chain at it’s weakest points, and in our view it’s weakest points are currently in our own countries, so we hope to see more pressure against the primate abusers on a local level.
The full magnitude of this achievement is yet to be realized…but on behalf of the nearly 400 monkeys who are about to experience life in their natural environment, and on behalf of their offspring who will never know captivity, we offer you our heartfelt gratitude and thanks.
PS: attachment below shows the proof of: The terrible truth about the Nepalese monkey farm from July 2008:–
*60 monkeys killed already, through neglect or euthanasia because theywere “unsuitable”…even though they could have been released back to the wild.
*10% death rate through “natural calamity” at the farm.
*Over 300 monkeys, including over 190 breeding females and 15 males…and 105 babies.
*14 members of staff, including their salaries.
*30 more monkeys to be captured this year, (2008).
LOTS and LOTS more information in the attached file…..
Please keep struggling for
until all are free,