The Asia for Animals Coalition (AfA), comprised of 19 organisations, and its Macaque Coalition (MACC), comprised of 22 organisations, have strongly opposed Sri Lanka’s plans to export 100,000 toque macaques to China.
AfA and MACC member organisations issued a statement saying they wholeheartedly support the call by the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS), Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ), Federation of Environmental Organisations (FEO), and RARE Sri Lanka to halt these plans and instead invest in the development of sound, well-researched interventions that protect both people and wildlife.
“We share the doubts expressed by these organisations 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,” the statement said.
It said 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 in relation to any number of macaques.
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.
AfA and MACC said 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 localised and do not represent macaque population numbers countywide.”
Noting that Macaques play important roles in the ecosystems they inhabit, they said 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.
AfA and MACCA statement said 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.
The Asia for Animals Coalition (AFA) is a network of local, national and international animal protection and conservation organisations with a particular focus on Asian animal advocacy. The Macaque Coalition (MACC) is an AfA working group composed of organisations and experts with a
particular interest and expertise in macaque welfare, trade, conservation and advocacy.