Conservationist: Culling animals for farm encroachment an over-reaction

Wild monkeys foraging for food at Persiaran Bercham Utara in Ipoh. Between Jan 1 and March 7 this year, some 2,256 monkeys were culled in Perak for causing disturbances in farms. — Filepic

HUMAN-wildlife conflict can be avoided with proper resources and a bigger mandate provided to the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan), says a conservationist.

Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (Ecomy) president and chief executive officer Andrew Sebastian said culling animals in response to encroachment into farms was an “over-reaction”.

Instead, he said the department should be given the mandate to regulate and oversee land matters in terms of forest and forest corridors, as this would help in cutting down encroachment into farms and the destruction of crops.

Andrew was responding to a lawmaker’s statement on the culling of monkeys and wild boars that caused disturbances at farms in Perak.

He said the statement by state health and environment committee chairman Mohd Akmal Kamarudin suggesting that wildlife must be kept in control or minimised to avoid disturbances in farms was uncalled for.

“I believe this is an overreaction on the part of the assemblyman.

“Although the culling of certain wildlife is permitted, we should not be advocating that.

“Because property damage certainly does not equate to the killing of precious wildlife, especially of certain species,” he told StarMetro.

During the state assembly sitting on March 30, Mohd Akmal said more than 14,000 monkeys and over 1,000 wild boars were culled in Perak last year to reduce disturbances by these animals at plantations.

He had said for this year until March 7, a total of 2,256 monkeys and 267 wild boars were culled.

Mohd Akmal also said that the move was necessary because the animals often caused distress to farmers, and some felt that such an operation could eradicate the enemy of the crops and drastically reduce disruption.

“This can also reduce the wildlife population that causes such disturbances,” Mohd Akmal had said.

Andrew, however, felt that a lot could still be done to reduce such conflicts if the Wildlife Department was provided with better and more resources.

He said one way to end such conflicts was for the government to avoid the change of land use of forest into farms, plantations and other purposes.

“Wildlife needs their own space to live, proliferate, to hunt and get food, and we deny them that every time we open up new land.

“This is so especially for forested land, which has been converted into farming.

“Thus a lot can be done to avoid such confrontation and conflicts, without continuously culling certain species of wildlife,” he added.

Andrew also said that although culling of wildlife was an accepted management tool to keep the numbers of certain wildlife in check, it should be used sparingly.

“Having said that, a lot more conflicts are going to happen because we seem to be taking more and more natural forests and habitats away from the wildlife,” he warned.

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