A pair of ‘extremely rare’ monkeys were recovered from smugglers at the Beirut airport, officials announced.
Lebanese authorities rescued the rare white-throated guenons and sent them to Monkey World, a rescue facility and monkey sanctuary in England.
The monkeys, named Benny and Nia, were smuggled into Lebanon through a passenger flight from Ghana, officials said.
Lebanese officials worked with the Animals Lebanon welfare group and Middle East Airlines to safely transport the animals to Monkey World in England.
“As tragic as their story is, Benny and Nia are the lucky ones that have survived and made it to a safe home,” said Dr. Alison Cronin, director of Monkey World. “Most die during the hunt or when they are torn away from their families and forest homes to be smuggled across the globe.”
Lebanon is part of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, and has worked to crack down on illegal wildlife trade since May 2013.
White-throated guenons are known to live on trees of rainforests or tropical areas in areas of Nigeria and Benin.
Monkeys part of black market trade are often used for the illegal pet trade or entertainment industry. Adult monkeys are often shot and eaten as bushmeat.
“We cannot give them their natural lives back again, but I am pleased to see that they are enjoying their new home and enclosure,” Cronin added. “Their sad story will hopefully remind people about how important it is to protect endangered species and the habitats which they come from.”