Malaysia’s monkey war: Take action!
Nearly 100,000 free-living long-tailed macaque monkeys have been killed per year in Malaysia, during 2011 and 2012. And the extermination is continuing. This massive “culling” has been conducted by Malaysia’s own Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
Please protest this horrifying and inhumane assault on Malaysia’s monkeys! (See below.)
A friend of Malaysia’s monkeys confirmed for me that the slaughter is a “direct order from the Ministry of Environment of Malaysia.” A few years ago the ministry had launched “operasi sifar kera” or “Operation Zero Macaques.” Then it turned into “operasi basmi kera,” or “Operation Reducing of Macaques.” My source told me, “They have target numbers of macaques to cull for every state in peninsular Malaysia, resulting in this mass murder.”
I have also learned that there are so many monkey corpses resulting from the cull that they are being cremated in the fields
The DWNP responded to some criticisms in the press with the assertion that the decision to kill this vast number of monkeys “was not done in haste,” adding: “The long-tailed macaque is a pest species and can easily adapt to any urban habitat. It is prolific and able to reproduce very fast. There is no question of the species being threatened into extinction with culling….
“We are only culling the problematic population in urban and sub-urban areas and not the macaques’ population that live in protected areas.” This article estimated the number of macaques in peninsular Malaysia at 740,000.
Others, however, disagree with this assessment. Keri Cairns, IPPL’s consulting zoologist, noted that before 1982 about 10,000 monkeys per year were being exported from Malaysia for trade.
Malaysia has not exported monkeys for experimentation since the mid-1980s, when IPPL and “Chief” Mohammed Khan bin Momin Khan (then head of Malaysia’s wildlife department) collaborated to get the practice banned. According to the DWNP’s 1985 annual report, says Keri, concerns about a “serious population decline” contributed to support for the ban.
What about a number ten times that amount? “This is an insane amount of monkeys to cull,” Keri said. He also wondered where that 740,000 population estimate came from, a figure he thought was “impossible.”
As he pointed out, “The long-tailed macaque is described by scientists as an ‘edge’ species.” This means that it is most commonly found along the coast (which accounts for its other name, the crab-eating macaque), by rivers, at forest edges, and in areas disturbed by humans.
As a result, “population surveys are carried out at these places, as they are easily accessible. The population data is then extrapolated to include forested areas, which the macaques are unlikely to inhabit. This can lead to a gross overestimation of the actual population.”
Because of the destruction of forests to make way for oil palm plantations, in addition to the demands of the ever-expanding human population, humans and monkeys have come into increasing conflict in Malaysia. Clearly, the result has been tragic for the monkeys.
But Keri has correctly pointed out that many undesirable monkey behaviors can be resolved in more constructive ways. Aggressive foraging in urban areas can be reduced by educating people not to feed the monkeys. Scavenging from uncovered rubbish bins can be curtailed by monkey-proofing the bins and placing trash for collection outside only at night.
“These measures, along with successful contraception programs, have been working in both Hong Kong and Singapore,” Keri told me.
Malaysia’s retired wildlife head, Chief Khan, has always been a great friend to wildlife and to IPPL, and he expressed his shock at the recent killings: “There was a time when killing 10 long-tailed macaques created hell from the public for the Department. Now 150,000 and there is hardly the kind of protest of long ago. What is happening to us? Are we less caring now and why?”
Show you care!
Write to Malaysian officials to protest this monkey war!
Please write in protest to the officials listed below as well as to Malaysian embassies worldwide.
I would like to protest the Malaysian government’s decision to kill up to 100,000 long-tailed macaque monkeys per year. Not only is this level of slaughter shockingly inhumane, it is also unsustainable. At this rate, this fascinating and unique species could be extinct in Malaysia within a decade.
There are many more productive ways to reduce human-monkey conflicts in urban areas. These include public education, proper sanitation procedures, and contraceptive campaigns. Such measures have already been used with success in Hong Kong and Singapore.
I urge you to put a halt to this destruction of Malaysia’s wildlife heritage.
Minister of Natural Resources, Department of Wildlife and National Parks:
Y.B. Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas
Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment
Level 17, lot 4G3
Federal Government Administrative Centre
Prime Minister of Malaysia:
The Honourable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Office of the Prime Minister
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building
Federal Government Administrative Centre