Diseases rescue monkeys in Malaysia

Published: Friday 29 February 2008

Malaysia has dropped a controversial plan to capture and export monkeys from urban areas after it found that a majority of them were infected with deadly diseases and are unfit for export.

The decision came after wildlife officials found that 80 per cent of the 250,000 urban monkeys were sick with diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and hiv/aids, the natural resources and environment minister, Azmi Khalid, told the media. The monkeys were supposed to fulfil the demand for exotic meat in a few countries in Asia and in the West and also used in scientific research. Though 20 per cent of the monkeys are healthy, only half of them are marketable in terms of size, he said.

Long-tailed monkeys are listed as endangered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (cites), which restricts their trade. Malaysia is a signatory to the convention but can trade them if it shows it will not hurt the survival of the species. The government in August 2007 lifted a 23-year-old ban on their export saying the monkeys had become urban pests. Animal rights activists call the plan cruel.

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