Saturday August 18, 2007
Monkey export ban lifted
PUTRAJAYA: Monkeys can now be caught and exported and the authorities claim it is to please urban folk who have been complaining that the animals have been creating problems for them.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the Cabinet, at its meeting on June 27, agreed to lift the ban to export monkeys found in urban areas as the public had complained of having foodstuff stolen and being attacked by the animals.
However, he gave an assurance that there would not be total elimination of the long-tailed macaque from city areas and they would still be allowed to roam around as long as the numbers were ideal.
Azmi said the human-monkey contact became more frequent after the animals natural habitat was cleared to make way for development, including creating new residential areas.
He said a solution to the confrontation had to be sought.
I realise we will be getting a lot of heat from other countries and even non-governmental organisations but this solution is necessary after other efforts have failed. We have tried transporting them to other areas as well as sterilising them but monkeys breed too quickly.
Our main concern now is to ensure that only experts are allowed to catch the monkeys because we do not want them to be put under stress, abused or tortured. The other important point is that only monkeys found in cities can be caught and not those in their natural habitat, he told a press conference yesterday.
According to the Wildlife Departments statistics, there are 742,000 long-tailed macaques in the country, of which 258,000 are found in city areas, including Kuala Lumpur.
The Government, in 1984, had imposed a ban on the export of long-tailed macaques following a reduction in the monkey population and the ban stayed for 23 years until last month.
I must stress that the long-tailed macaque is not a threatened species in Malaysia,'' Azmi said.