Famed Cryptozoologist to Prison: 14 Years

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 22nd, 2007

Marc van Roosmalen

Marc van Roosmalen, as a zoologist and cryptozoologist, has used Ivan Sanderson’s and Bernard Heuvelmans’ classic cryptozoological fieldwork techniques, trusting the locals, listening to the native tales, and tracking down new animals. Now comes shocking news from his adopted Brazil that is anything but good.

Marc van Roosmalen

According to breaking press accounts, Dutch biologist Marc van Roosmalen faces 14 years in a Brazilian prison. An apparent victim of bureaucracy, he has been convicted of failing to apply for a license for the monkey refuge at his home in the Amazon region of Brazil. He is appealing the sentence.

Time Magazine in 2000 hailed van Roosmalen as a “hero for the planet.”

As Darren Naish recently noted, in opening a multi-post series on van Roosmalen’s new species discoveries, “few living people have contributed so much to the discovery and documentation of new terrestrial mammal species as Dutch primatologist Dr Marc van Roosmalen.”

According to correspondent Jeroen Dirks, van Roosmalen has been convicted of biopiracy: “It was easy to find a reason to take legal action against Van Roosmalen. He was accused of failing to apply for a permit for the monkey refuge at his home. This meant that the 28 orphaned monkeys he was keeping there were technically stolen. He was accused of monkey theft and biopiracy and sentenced to 14 years in prison.”

The 60-year-old primatologist, biologist and, yes, cryptozoologist is now behind bars in Brazil.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

15 Responses to “Famed Cryptozoologist to Prison: 14 Years”

  1. Ayala responds:

    This is horrible! What is wrong with Brazil? Is there more to this story???

  2. Loren Coleman responds:

    Needless to say, more details will be posted when available. But in a nutshell, the whole story is here: Accused, convicted, and now in prison.

    Appeals through the courts of Brazil are not speedy for these types of crimes. But hopefully highlighting this incident as an apparent high profile miscarriage of justice, via the American and European media, could help.

  3. Dan Gannon responds:

    Bureaucracy screws up again. What a travesty.

  4. Bob Michaels responds:

    We must Write a letter to the President of Brazil and get the WWF and the WCS involved

  5. sbdance responds:

    Obviously, he was in the way of larger interests. The same thing happens in this country with our own government. And it’s usually as easy as sending the IRS after you.

  6. greywolf responds:

    I agree with sbdance. What or who did he cross or get PO’ed at him? Seems to me the failure to apply or get a license is a small thing that a fine or a nasty letter would fix. Seems that there is more to this than we are hearing, WWF should get involved. I wonder who wants the land the monkey rescue is located on? Money talks and Government officials at all levels in South America are far from perfect. Hmmmmm same in this country.

  7. heinselman responds:

    Please note that the incident started in July 2002 when Brazilian authorities removed 27 monkeys from Marc Van Roosmalen. He was fined over $1500 and animal trafficking was the charge.

    There appeared to be a discrepnacy between Roosmalen and Ibama, the countries environmental protection agency, interpretation of the governing documents surrounding the necessary paperwork and politics of protection.

    Those events carried over it now appears to this sentence.

    News of the fines circulated briefly in 2002, CNN carried some accounts (some may still be online).

    Craig Heinselman
    Peterborough, NH

  8. size 13 responds:

    I’ve emailed the dept of external affairs in Brasil asking for lienency for the good Dr.
    I couldn’t find any address for the president. Maybe if all the dept heads got some notice of this from us we just might be able to something at least.Anything we could do is far better than doing nothing.
    14 years for the love of apes,Hmm go figure.Oh yea anything that would look like from an official oganization might get them to take notice.
    Get your voice heard in Brasil.

  9. size 13 responds:

    Oh by the way…

    Thank you Loren for posting this.

    I ask you so I don’t get in trouble for copyright infringement.

    Could you send them a copy of this blog to the Brazilian Government?

    Then they could see how we are taken back on this.

    Thank You Big Time

    For The Love Of Apes

  10. WVBotanist responds:

    This is a tragedy, for sure, but it is also a brief glimpse and redirect away from a larger tragedy: copyright, patent, or other intellectual property rights on living things. How is that related to this story? Biopiracy – Brazil is fully aware of the ridiculous profits to be earned from true pirate corporations, i.e. Monsanto, the great Missouri Botanical Gardens benefactor, who sponsors countless jaunts into the rainforest to bioprospect… and then declare ownership of particular plant genes, or medicinals. And Brazil, like many other South American countries, is not terribly pleased at often missing out.

    That probably had nothing to do with what van Roosmalen was doing there, which makes him an easy example. With little corporate defenses and a clear technical violation, his incarceration makes for a free shot across the bow, perhaps?

    The fact remains that while corporate profits are driven by the osmotic engine of ‘standard of living’ across semi-permeable borders, and US or other courts are willing to uphold such blatant thievery, well then the actual conservationists who are scarcely making a dent by following the rules will also be burnt at the stake as straw men set up long ago to collect arrows. I guess that is too many metaphors in one setting, but I’m kind of sick to my stomach just now.

  11. Guerrierinconnu responds:

    My God !!
    It is insane !!

    stupid guys in Brazil…………………………..

  12. planettom responds:

    What about his property? Has it been handed over to the government? And what about the monkeys, who is taking care of them now?

  13. cor2879 responds:

    14 years for failure to obtain a license. I don’t think an English word exists to describe the absurdity of such a dire punishment for so minor a crime. Loren please keep us posted on new developments with this story.

  14. things-in-the-woods responds:

    This is a disgrace, a clear fix-up by the thoroughly nasty bunch making a killing out of killing the rainforest (remember the elderly nun murdered by these people not so long ago..)- and it is urgent that something be done- the newspaper article I read on this states that Roosmalen fears for his life as a foriegner in a lawless Brazialn jail where there is at least one death every day.

    I am going to write to the Brazilian government, but has anyone got any other ideas?

  15. things-in-the-woods responds:

    What’s happened to the primates? Well, here’s a quote from his website;

    “Since colonial times Brazilian authorities have been responsible for relentless destruction of the rain forest. Nothing has been left of the highly biodiverse Atlantic Rain Forest that once stretched out over most of the Brazilian Southeast. The magnificent Amazon Rain Forest faces a similar fate, as the Brazilian Government is allowing it to be destroyed at an ever-increasing speed. Large-scale development schemes are sanitized by using eco-friendly slogans, such as “sustainable development or management”, that are intended to deceive us. They allude to gaining our confidence that they are ecologically minded, when in fact their motives are entirely monetary. My recent discoveries, though, may well serve to hinder these corrupt schemes. For if there are out there big tree-dwelling, ground-dwelling and even aquatic mammals not known to science – a dwarf tapir, a giant peccary, a white deer, a dwarf manatee, another river dolphin, to name a few – what do we really know about its flora and fauna? Very Little. About its ecology – the utterly complex web of relationships between plants and animals? Even less. Then what do we know about the sustainability of this ecosystem? Absolutely nothing.

    It is no coincidence that in response to my publications, environmental authorities, pushed by politicians involved in lucrative development schemes (e.g., Mato Grosso soybean connection), bit back in 2002 with a vicious persecution of me and a few other foreign so-called “biopirates”. After an unjust Kafka-an process I was sacked from my senior-scientist position at the Federal Institute for Amazon Research (INPA), my rehabilitation center caring for a number of monkeys (incl. some new species), birds and other endangered animals was torn down causing the animals to perish, and a number of lawsuits were brought against me which have been subsequently rescinded.” (I think this was written before this recent conviction)

    Like I said, a disgrace.

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