LOCATION: JEMAA EL-FNA SQUARE, MARRAKESH
DATE OF VISIT: 21 FEBRUARY 2019
Born Free sent an investigator, environmental photojournalist Aaron Gekoski, to visit Marrakesh following reports of animal exploitation and cruelty taking place in the bustling Jemaa el-Fna main square, a popular market location with locals and tourists.
Barbary macaque monkeys are used as props for tourist photographs, many dressed in clothes or nappies. Chains are put around their necks to enable them to be dragged around from person to person. The macaques are exposed to crowds of people, loud noises and extreme temperatures. Most are crammed into dark travelling crates and kept in poor conditions.
It is difficult to train a wild adult animal to be used as a photo prop, so infant Barbary macaques are often snatched from their mothers in the wild and hand-reared because they are easier to tame. Using wild animals as photo props is actually illegal in Morocco but it seems to be tolerated in the square, the city’s historic centre and UNESCO World Heritage site, because it is traditional.
Other captive animals can be found in the square, with numerous snakes used for snake-charming and birds of prey as photo props. There are also cages of wild species for sale, including chameleons, tortoises and small mammals, plus animal parts and skins.
Photographic evidence obtained during the visit can be viewed in the photo gallery below.
Born Free continues to call on the Moroccan and Marrakesh authorities to bring this blatant animal exploitation to an end.
You can help by writing a letter to the Mayor of Marrakesh.