The Asia for Animals Coalition (AFA) which is a network of local, national and international animal protection and conservation organizations with a particular focus on Asian animal advocacy and the Macaque Coalition (MACC) have condemned the widely-reported proposal to remove up to 100,000 toque macaques from the wild in Sri Lanka and send them to China, ostensibly for placement in the country’s zoos.

Here is the full text of the statement:

“The Asia for Animals Coalition (AFA) and Macaque Coalition (MACC) member organizations wholeheartedly support the call by Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS), Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ), Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO), and RARE Sri Lanka to halt these plans, and to instead invest in the development of sound, well-researched interventions that protect both people and wildlife.”

“Further, AFA and MACC share the doubts expressed by the above-mentioned organizations that these animals are feasibly destined for lives in zoos. Given the numbers involved and the present global demand for primates as subjects for biomedical research, we fear it is more likely that these endangered macaques are intended for use by the research industry.”

“Media reports on this issue are confusing, with conflicting statements about whether either the Sri Lankan or the Chinese governments are seriously considering moving forward with the proposed plan.”

“Additionally, details of the private company said to have approached Sri Lanka’s Agricultural Department about the export of macaques are missing and raise questions; no contact person is provided on the letter, the company’s seal is backwards, and, while they told one source by telephone that their company is “not yet in full operation”, the company appears to be involved in lawsuits with two other breeding companies in Northeast China.”

“Toque macaques (Macaca sinica) are found only on the island of Sri Lanka. They have been classified as Endangered since 2008, with one subspecies (M.s. opishtomelas) recently reassessed as Critically Endangered.”

“Though these monkeys can appear to be overabundant in areas where they have learned to take advantage of easy access to food, these sites are “highly localized and do not represent macaque population numbers countywide.”

“At least 70 % of the species’ habitat has been converted to other uses over the past 65 years, and concurrent with this, the toque macaque population has declined by more than 50% over the last 40 years.”

“Furthermore, there is every indication that these declines will continue as toque macaques have no legal protection and are managed as a pest species, despite the fact they represent an integral part of the natural biodiversity heritage of Sri Lanka.”

“The removal of any substantial number of toque macaques from the wild would not only cause immense suffering to the individual animals involved, it could also cause irreversible ecological damage which would negatively affect the people and wildlife of Sri Lanka for years to come.”

“The survival of the species, already edging towards extinction, would become even more fragile. Sri Lankan citizens, and the world, would be deprived of a unique and ecologically important animal species.”

“Macaques play important roles in the ecosystems they inhabit. The disappearance of key species like macaques can degrade entire habitats, in turn compromising other species’ ability to survive – and ultimately our own.”

“We understand that crop losses can be devastating to people’s livelihoods and encounters with monkeys that have become dependent on human food can be dangerous. However, neither the ad hoc killing nor the mass removal of macaques is a sustainable or humane solution.”

“The resources that would be allocated to the location, trapping and transport of hundreds or thousands of monkeys should instead be invested in addressing the root causes of local overabundance and the development of truly effective measures that protect both crops and wildlife and promote continued coexistence.”

“Human-monkey conflict mitigation strategies for Sri Lanka have been discussed and developed in recent years. Such strategies should be evaluated and, where feasible, implemented prior to any consideration of the capture or lethal control of monkeys.”

“The organizations we are supporting with this statement are working in consultation with well-established experts on toque macaques, Sri Lankan ecology and conservation, who we know are prepared to advise on these very issues. Organizations within our Coalition may also be available to assist.”

“The undersigned organizations from around the globe, on behalf of the many millions of members they represent, have considerable collective experience and expertise in human-wildlife conflict and its mitigation, and respectfully ask that the Sri Lankan authorities listen to their experts in this matter, and invest in real, effective and lasting solutions that do not place an entire species at risk.”



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