Journal Article

Shedding light on the trade in nocturnal galagos


Primates are traded yearly in the tens of thousands for reasons such as biomedical research, as trophies and pets, for consumption and to be used in traditional medicine. In many cases, this trade is illegal, unsustainable and considered a major impediment to primate conservation. Diurnal primates make up the vast majority of this trade, but recent studies have found that the trade in nocturnal primates is more common than previously thought, and among them are the galagos. There are currently 19 galagos recognized but there is still a dearth of research on these species and subspecies. The purpose of our study was to provide a more comprehensive picture of the trade in galagos within and across their African range countries, to help determine whether it is illegal or its sustainability needs to be assessed, and to provide baseline data and management recommendations to better regulate this trade, including strengthening policy, enforcement and conservation interventions. We gathered information on trade and use of galagos using an online questionnaire (May–August 2020), and on country-specific legislation relating to wildlife trade, hunting and legal protection of galagos, and looked at each range country’s Corruption Perception Index score to gain an understanding of the obstacles in the way of effective law enforcement. We received 140 responses to our online questionnaire, from 31 of the 39 galago range countries. Respondents from 16 of these countries reported on first-hand observations of galagos being traded or used. Out of these, 36% reported seeing galagos sold or used for consumption, 33% as pets and 25% had observed them sold or used for traditional practices (including medical and magical purposes and for witchcraft). Most reports came from West Africa followed by Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa. We found that the number of reports on galagos being traded was higher in countries with higher numbers of galago species. Countries with more restrictive legislation experienced a higher number of reports of trade. Galagos observed in the pet trade was more common in East Africa, whilst reports of them in the bushmeat trade were more common in Central and West Africa. Galagos observed in the trade for traditional practices was by far most common from West Africa. We found that all galago range countries have some level of legal protection for some or all of their native galago species. It is evident that use and trade of galagos occurs throughout their range, albeit localized to certain areas. We urge galago range countries to adequately protect all species and to ensure legal trade is effectively regulated. Range countries that prohibit the use and trade in galagos must ensure legislation is adequately enforced. Further research into the drivers behind the use and trade of galagos should be initiated in countries with high levels of use and trade to further inform conservation and policy actions and to catalyze enforcement actions against poaching and illegal trade.

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Svensson, Magdalena S.
Queiroz Morcatty, Thais
Nijman, Vincent
Shepherd, Chris R.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-04-26

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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This RADAR resource is Identical to Shedding light on the trade in nocturnal galagos
This RADAR resource Cites Trade in nocturnal galagos. Supplementary material Table S1


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