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Wednesday September 5, 2007

Monkey export ban not lifted


KUALA LUMPUR: The ban on the export of the long-tailed macaque has not been lifted, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid clarified. 

“I did not use the word 'lift'. The media quoted me wrongly,” he told a press conference during the Malaysian Energy and Climate Change Dialogue yesterday. 

Instead, he said, only monkeys in the cities would be caught and exported. 

On Aug 18, Azmi was quoted as saying that the Cabinet had in June agreed to lift the ban on the export of the monkeys found in urban areas, as there were numerous complaints that the monkeys had stolen food and attacked people. 

“The proposal to catch and export the monkeys was only to reduce their numbers in cities because they are causing problems,” he said, adding that the monkey population in Malaysia was more than 700,000, with 250,000 in urban areas. 

“We don’t allow the monkeys from the jungle to be caught and exported,” he added. 

Catching those in the cities and exporting them did not mean the export ban was lifted, he explained. 

“We are only controlling the numbers in the cities. People can catch them and do what they want with them. If they want to export them, we allow it,” he said. 

Asked whether licences had been issued to exporters of monkeys caught in the cities, Azmi said no. He said the Government had moved the monkeys to their natural habitat but they seldom survived because the monkeys there would kill them. 

Efforts to sterilise these monkeys did not work because those not sterilised bred quickly, he added. 

HILARY CHEW meanwhile reports that the Malaysian Animal Rights and Welfare Society’s (Roar) president N. Surendransaid the minister’s explanation was highly confusing and misleading. 

Roar is the umbrella body of local animal rights groups. 

“Allowing urban monkeys to be hunted almost certainly will lead to trapping of monkeys in the jungle,” he said, adding that the group doubted the Wildlife Department would have enough resources to monitor the hunting or the capability to differentiate between urban and jungle monkeys. 

Roar yesterday handed a memorandum to Azmi demanding that the minister reinstate the ban.  

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