Suit over culling of monkeys is on

No monkey business: The dusky leaf monkey is recognised as an endangered species by international bodies.

SEREMBAN: The High Court has dismissed an application by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) to strike out a suit from a resident and a non-governmental organisation over the culling of dusky leaf monkeys in Port Dickson.

Lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan, who is representing the plaintiffs, said High Court judge Datuk Azizul Azmi Adnan also fixed Jan 8 to 11, 2024, to hear the case.

“The court gave us direction for pre-trial, case management and the necessary documents to be filed.

“The next case management date is fixed for Feb 7 next year,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Rajesh is representing Nurul Azreen Sultan, a resident of Taman Raja Zainal in Port Dickson where the monkeys were shot and killed, and wildlife rights group, Hak Asasi Hidupan Liar Malaysia (Hidup).

Rajesh, who is also the founder of Lawyers for Animal Rights, said the plaintiffs’ main contention was that Perhilitan’s role was to protect wildlife and that they should not have culled the animals.

The defendants are Perhilitan personnel Ismail Abdullah, 39, Amirul Faries Idris, 34, and Mohd Saiful Asnawi Abdul Mutalib, 27, as well as the department director-general and the Energy and Natural Resources Minister.

In December following the change in government, the ministry has since been renamed to the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry.

In their suit filed on July 21 last year, the plaintiffs claimed that over 20 adult and baby dusky leaf monkeys were shot dead during an operation conducted by the department around 10am on May 19, 2021.

They claimed that the carcasses were later put in gunny sacks and taken away.

In their suit, they also claimed that it was common knowledge that the dusky leaf monkeys were extremely shy primates and that the defendants had wrongly concluded that they could attack humans.

The department, they claimed, had no business culling the animals which were also listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Fauna to which Malaysia is a signatory.

They claimed that by culling the “totally protected wildlife”, the defendants had violated Section 86 (1)(f) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, under which it is an offence to willfully cause any unnecessary suffering, pain or discomfort to any wildlife.

Offenders can be fined up to RM50,000 or jailed up to a year or both.

The plaintiffs stated the defendants had no justification to cull the animals as they did not pose any immediate threat to any one.

In May last year, Perhilitan had in a statement said it was forced to cull seven adult dusky leaf monkeys or lotong as these animals had caused serious injuries to humans on three occasions in the same year.

It claimed that all seven monkeys were aggressive and had to be put down after attempts to trap or relocate them failed.

It also denied reports that 20 dusky leaf monkeys were shot and killed in the operation.The department also stated that there were no juveniles culled in the operation as mentioned in the viral reports.

Perhilitan said its decision to cull them was in line with provisions under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which allows for it to rid any wildlife that causes harm to humans or property.

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