Colombo [Sri Lanka], June 13 (TN): The Sri Lankan government is waiting for the outcome of several court cases regarding the request to export monkeys to China in order to take a decision, as the importer is ready to proceed with the request, Sri Lanka-based The Morning reported citing The Sunday Morning.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Dharma Wanninayake said that legal cases were proving to be a hindrance to the government’s venture to export monkeys to China and the government will take the next step after the case ends. He said that the relevant Chinese company continue to show interest in the project.
Earlier this year, the Sri Lankan Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera said that a Chinese company had presented a proposal to import toque macaques from Sri Lanka, Skandha Gunasekara wrote in The Morning report. He said that some 100,000 monkeys will be exported to China, The Morning reported. He had noted that there was an overpopulation of these monkeys in Sri Lanka, which he stressed were a pest to farmers as they destroyed swathes of crops on farmland.
While addressing the parliament last week, Mahinda Amaraweera said that a Chinese company had approached Sri Lankan government and expressed willingness in procuring monkeys for a number of zoos under its ownership. He further said, “We were informed that there were 20 private zoos that required monkeys and were asked if we could provide about 1,000-2,000 monkeys as soon as possible,” The Sunday Morning reported.
As per the news report, environmental groups raised objections against the move and made several allegations against the Chinese government and the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka. The Chinese company is still willing to procure monkeys and talks have advanced. However, ultimately this venture must be carried out by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation.
Sri Lankan Minister of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Pavithra Wanniarachchi told the House that there were a few legal obstacles and that the government was in the process of making changes in the legislation, The Morning reported. She said that the necessary amendments have been referred to the Attorney General’s Department.
Earlier in April, activists held a protest after the Sri Lankan Agriculture minister announced that the authorities are planning to export 100,000 endangered toque macaque monkeys to a private Chinese company, Voice of America reported.
The toque macaque, which is endemic to Sri Lanka, features in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered animals, it is not a protected species in Sri Lanka.
After the announcement, conservationists and animal rights activists warned, however, they do not believe the Chinese zoos have space for 100,000 toque macaques and that it was more likely the monkeys would be used for testing in labs, as per the news report.
Sri Lankan authorities have said that farmers consider the roughly 3 million toque macaques in Sri Lanka as a menace as they damage their crops, Voice of America reported. The conservationists have criticized the move, with many expressing fear the animals may be used for tests in labs. (TN)