Stop the culling of wildlife: SAM

GEORGE TOWN: Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is deeply shocked and disturbed by the recent shooting of a family of 20 dusky langurs (Trachypithecus obscurus), or dusky leaf monkeys in Port Dickson, last Thursday.

SAM president Meenakshi Raman said they were alerted to a social media post uploaded by a person named Nurul Azreen Sultan about the incident that went viral bringing attention to the public and media.

The post alleged that the shooting of the endangered primates was carried out by the Negri Sembilan Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).

One of the reasons cited by the Negri Sembilan Perhilitan officers for the culling was that there has been human-wildlife conflict.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species classifies dusky langurs as an endangered species.

Malaysia's Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 categorises them as protected species.

Furthermore, Section 86 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 states that a person commits an offence when he or she is wilfully cruel to any wildlife and is liable to a fine or imprisonment or both.

"On the face of it, this seems like a cruel act of killing by the Wildlife and National Parks Department.

"SAM is appalled by the cruel method used by the department in killing a whole family of 20 dusky langurs at one go, and allegedly with baby langurs too, without taking into account if they were really the cause of the conflict.

"SAM questions the department, whether their standard operating procedure is to shoot to kill first without proper investigation or without thinking through the process," Meenakshi said today.

She said witnesses in the incident had mentioned an incident that took place a few months ago, but it may have been caused by a group of macaques and not these dusky langurs.

She said if indeed there was an incident of human-wildlife conflict a few months ago, Perhilitan would have had time to mount an investigation and find a more humane solution to the conflict rather than killing 20 of this endangered species.

She said the department had in its recent social media posts stated it was running rehabilitation programmes for many wildlife species including gibbons.

They even forcefully removed six gibbons that were undergoing years of rehabilitation from the Gibbons Rehabilitation Project in Pahang early this year, citing that the gibbons were better off under their care, she said.

However, she said the department later went ahead and mercilessly shot 20 dusky langurs without any thought of trauma inflicted to both the wildlife and humans living in the surrounding area.

SAM is very concerned about the rate of biodiversity loss in this country, and this includes our wildlife, she said.

She said if the government does not begin to care about our wildlife and especially these endangered species, soon the country will not have any left for the next generation.

"It is well known that dusky langurs are arboreal primates who dwell in tall trees in dense forests. They are social animals that live in groups and rarely come in contact with humans.

"The fact that these langurs have been seen near a human settlement could be due to the loss of their original habitat, a conflict first caused by humans in the name of development.

"Instead of employing cruel methods to contain human-wildlife conflicts, the Wildlife and National Parks Department should be looking at other ways of dealing with such incidents including translocation of these wild animals in conflict, away from human habitation and/or rehabilitating them for later release into the wild. They should also be learning from their counterparts in other countries."

Meenakshi urged the government to investigate the case and put a stop to such cruel methods of culling wildlife.

"The government should also ensure that our forests are protected so that wildlife habitats are not destroyed.

"This is the most efficient way to protect both the diversity of wildlife in the country and human life," she added.

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