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  Business Times 18 Aug 2007
also in the Straits Times 18 Aug 07

Malaysia lifts ban on monkey export: report

News Straits Times 18 Aug 07
EDITORIAL: Monkey business

Yahoo News 17 Aug 07
also on Channel NewsAsia 17 Aug 07

Malaysia lifts ban on monkey trading

Yahoo News 17 Aug 07
Malaysia to export monkeys for research

New Straits Times 17 Aug 07
Possible open season on monkeys?
Elizabeth John

KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of wild monkeys could soon be trapped and shipped off to countries like China and Taiwan, ending a 23-year old ban on the trade in primates.

The New Straits Times has learnt that the trade ban — put in place by the government due to dwindling numbers and global concern about animal cruelty — was lifted recently.

The move is largely expected to affect macaques which were heavily traded in the years before the ban.

A news report in March spoke about government plans to export the species for the exotic food market or as pets.

At the time, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Sazmi Miah was quoted as saying that the macaque population had grown to such an extent that it had become a nuisance and had caused many problems.

He said it was better to export the primate rather than cull it.

He had also said that the ministry was in negotiations with Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong on the export of macaques. A trade quota or limit would have to be set before export licences can be issued.

Sources have described the quota as "considerable". Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid is scheduled to explain the ministry’s decision at a press conference today.

In the 1970s, an average of 10,000 macaques were exported each year, said the Wildlife and National Parks Department manual on human-macaque conflict. The manual says they were exported to the US for biomedical research and to other countries as food or pets.

The trade is believed to have decimated the macaque population, prompting the cabinet to order a study on the primate trade and its impact on population levels. This eventually led to the ban.

This move was the last in a series of steps the government took to halt trade in all types of monkeys from the country.

The macaque is a protected species under Malaysian law and is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This means it can be traded but within strict limits, determined by a scientific study. A CITES permit is also required.

Malaysia banned trade in macaques and other primates at a time when awareness was growing around the world about animal welfare issues. Other countries like India banned primate trade in 1974 while Bolivia did it in the same year as Malaysia.

In recent years, macaques displaced by an expanding urban area have come into conflict with humans. Complaints of disturbance and attacks by macaques are among the most frequent the department receives.

Wildlife experts have long discouraged taking macaques as pets, saying they could turn aggressive upon reaching sexual maturity, triggering attacks on their owners. This could lead to them being abandoned or put down.

Environmentalists have also warned that macaque problems would continue to persist as long as the issue of displacement was not addressed.

News Straits Times 18 Aug 07
EDITORIAL: Monkey business

IN a way, this is a success story.

The peninsular population of long-tailed macaques had declined by 25 per cent between 1957 and 1975, when their trade was unregulated and these monkeys were routinely caught for export to exotic-food kitchens in East Asia and animal-testing laboratories in the West.

What was normal practice for decades was soon corralled by the awakening environmental consciousness of the 1970s, and Macaca fascicularis was duly listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade on Endangered Species, allowing limited trade under strict guidelines, backed by sound knowledge of the effect of this trade on natural populations and their ecosystems.

But we all know what’s become of natural wildlife habitats in this country over the past 30 years.

Urban and industrial development has pushed back forest fringes. Without a "countryside" to speak of, there are few if any buffers between forest and human habitats, which has allowed wild monkeys freely to invade urban areas.

They are famously adaptable animals, at home everywhere from the seashore to the mountaintops. Urban environments are positively appealing to them, with virtually unlimited access to abundant food.

Today, a third of the peninsula’s estimated population of 742,000 long-tailed macaques inhabit built-up areas, where they are at best pests and at worst menaces.

Doing something about them is easier said than done. Trapping them for relocation has been tried but found to have deleterious effects on the ecosystems where they are released.

Expatriated urban macaques clash with forest-domiciled troops over territory, usually to the latter’s destruction — city monkeys are often larger and more aggressive due to their human diets and interaction.

Singapore, faced with a similar problem, is contemplating shooting them outright and absorbing the negative sentiments of people who might accept the culling of crows or sewer rats but feel a greater personal affinity with monkeys.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry’s idea of decriminalising the export of macaques as exotic cuisine has two dubious advantages: The trade is nothing new, having persisted illegally during the 30 years of the ban; and it can make money. The 900 macaques found penned up in Kluang, Johor, awaiting illegal export last month were reportedly worth some RM350,000.

But the ban on macaque export was lifted last June without any clear mechanisms in place for this renewed animal trade.

This is an obvious priority to attend to now that the long-tailed macaque is back to being fair game.

Yahoo News 17 Aug 07
also on Channel NewsAsia 17 Aug 07

Malaysia lifts ban on monkey trading

Malaysia on Friday said it has lifted a 23-year ban on the export of long-tailed macaques because their population has grown to be an urban nuisance.

Natural resources and environment minister Azmi Khalid said only monkeys in urban areas could be caught and exported.

"The cabinet has decided to lift the ban which was imposed in 1984 on the capture and export of this type of monkeys," Azmi told a news conference. "This is because we want to reduce the number of long-tailed monkeys in urban areas," adding that they often "create havoc" there and attack people and steal food.

The lifting of the ban however is only in mainland Malaysia and does not cover Sabah and Sarawak, he said.

Azmi said a study by his office found there were more than 258,000 macaques living in urban areas in the mainland and nearly 484,000 in the wild.

Meanwhile the New Straits Times newspaper reported that the government was in negotiations on possibly exporting the primates to Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

As many as 10,000 of these macaques were exported each year in the 1970s, mainly for laboratory research in the United States and Europe and to other countries as exotic food or pets.

The trade led to a drop in the macaque population and subsequently forced the government to impose the ban in the mid-1980s.

Yahoo News 17 Aug 07
Malaysia to export monkeys for research

Malaysia has defended its decision to allow the export of macaque monkeys for meat and scientific research purposes, saying it will help curb their booming population in cities where they attack people and raid homes for food.

"We are talking about keeping a figure (of macaques) that is sustainable ... that will not cause problems to the people," Natural Resources and Environment Minister Azmi Khalid told reporters Friday.

The government quietly lifted a decades-old ban on the export of macaques two months ago.

Since then, Azmi said, he has received complaints that it is cruel to export the monkeys, which are destined for restaurants and research laboratories.

He did not elaborate but dismissed the complaints, saying something had to be done to curb the monkeys' numbers in Malaysia. Exporting them was the best option, he said.

"I can understand the emotional part of it. But we have to be practical about it. We cannot be emotional," Azmi said.

He said more than 258,000 long-tailed macaques are living in Malaysian urban areas and snatch food from people, homes and fields. "The moment they have less food they attack anybody," he said.

Azmi could not say how many macaques the ministry would allow to be exported or how it would control the trade, saying the details still have to be fine-tuned. He also could not say how the government will make sure the monkeys are not caught from forests but from cities where they are a nuisance.

Chris Shepherd, regional program officer for anti-smuggling group TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, cautioned that the government had to carefully regulate the trade.

"There seems to be an increase in illegal trade of macaques in Southeast Asia over the past years," he told The Associated Press. "We encourage the government to monitor the effects of the lifting of the ban to make sure the wild population doesn't decline and it doesn't spur illegal trade," he said.

Long-tailed macaques are listed as endangered under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, which restricts their trade.

But in Malaysia, a signatory to the convention, macaques are not endangered. In addition to their urban population, almost half a million more live in the country's forests.

Last month, wildlife officials rescued 950 ill-treated long-tailed macaques from smugglers in southern Malaysia and detained four people. According to the Wildlife Department officials, the primates were starving and cramped in filthy cages. Some were eating the carcasses of their young, and another 100 dead monkeys were piled up nearby.

Business Times 18 Aug 2007
also in the Straits Times 18 Aug 07

Malaysia lifts ban on monkey export: report
The animals may be sold to Taiwan, HK, Korea and Japan

(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 yesterday.

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 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 Mr Azmi, speaking in the country's administrative capital of Putrajaya.

Mr 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, Mr 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. -- Reuters

Malaysia Seizes 900 Monkeys From Wildlife Poachers PlanetArk 10 Jul 07

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