Friday, September 07, 2007

Restore the ban on monkey trading

Restore the ban on monkey trading

THE recent decision by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to lift the ban on monkey trading comes as a shock to all Malaysians who are concerned for our wildlife and abhor cruelty towards animals.

These poor animals are to be seized from their habitats and sold abroad where many will be slaughtered for the pot and for medical research.

The reason the ministry gave for its decision is that this is the only way to overcome primate overpopulation.

But what about humane culling? Surely it is immoral and callous to make money out of selling monkeys.

To make things worse, the ministry will be encouraging the trade in exotic wildlife in Malaysia and in the region.

Once the supply of “legitimate” macaques from Malaysia runs out, restaurants overseas serving exotic meat will surely turn to illegal traders in our country to satisfy the lucrative demand for monkey meat.

This will lead to a huge increase in illegal hunting of macaques in our jungles.

Another reason cited by ministry officials is that there have been incidences of monkey attacks on humans in urban areas. No empirical data was given as to the frequency of such attacks. In fact, one rarely hears of such attacks.

In any event, mass capture and slaughter of wildlife is surely a disproportionate reaction to infrequent monkey attacks.

It should also not be forgotten that indiscriminate development and human encroachment into monkey habitats is the real cause of these attacks.

As a species, monkeys are quite similar to humans, both at a genetic and behavioural level.

I hope the minister concerned will restore the ban on monkey trading.

Any other course of action will shame this country in the eyes of the world and subject our macaques to a terrible fate.


Kuala Lumpur.

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