Malaysia Lifts Ban on Export of Monkeys
KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia has lifted a ban on the export of long-tailed macaques in a bid to thin the population of the monkeys, which are becoming a menace in urban areas, state news agency Bernama said on Friday.
Malaysia is negotiating to export the animals to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan, where they could end up as food or as pets, the New Straits Times newspaper said.
"The cabinet has decided to lift the ban which was imposed in 1984 on the capture and export of this type of monkey," Bernama quoted Environment Minister Azmi Khalid said as telling a news conference.
"These monkeys create havoc in urban areas, not only stealing food from houses but also attacking people, and this is a cause for worry," said Azmi, speaking in the country's administrative capital of Putrajaya.
Azmi said efforts to curb their numbers through sterilisation had failed.
An environment ministry study showed that there were 258,406 long-tailed macaques living in urban areas in peninsular Malaysia, with 483,747 living in the wild, Bernama reported.
The export ban was being lifted only in peninsular Malaysia, but not the country's eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo, it added.
The ministry had yet to decide on how to catch the monkeys and export them, Azmi said.
"We want to make sure that long-tailed monkeys in the wild are not disturbed," he said. "We also want to ensure that monkeys caught in urban areas are not ill-treated in the process of export. These monkeys still are on the endangered list of animals, so we have to do this right."
Malaysian wildlife authorities smashed a ring of smugglers last month and confiscated more than 900 poached monkeys destined for China or the Netherlands in what officials said was their biggest seizure involving the animal so far.
The original export ban on the monkeys was the result of an alarming drop in their numbers after an average of 10,000 animals were exported each year in the 1970s for use in biomedical research, as food or as pets, the New Straits Times said.