Thursday, November 11, 2010

Put Monkeys Back Responsibly - And Reply From Government

Tuesday November 2, 2010

Relocate macaques responsibly

SAHABAT Alam Malaysia, in response to “Dept needs more public support to help curb monkey menace,” (The Star, Oct 26), laments that it is the macaques that are getting a bad deal at the moment.
In several parts of the country, their numbers are said to be increasing and the way humans see it, it is the macaques “interfering with our society.”

Coping with the nuisance of urban monkeys may be beyond human patience as they are known to be destructive. Shooting or declaring them as pests will not solve the problem.

In years to come this will be proven true given that the country’s human population will double.
Extensive forest is being replaced by human agriculture and dwellings and towns where food is plentiful.

In places where monkeys are deprived of their natural food supply they go to other areas to seek food. Without a suitable habitat they will die.

Though translocation holds the greater promise for the urban macaques, there is concern that such animals may disturb the ecology of their new habitat. Translocating monkeys with raiding habits will simply shift the menace from one community to another.

The risks faced by these monkeys when translocated to a forest reserve is the possibility of being killed by resident monkeys in competition for living space. In addition, an area that is freed of monkeys is an invitation for other monkeys to take up residence.

Again it is important to emphasise that translocated individuals usually disperse after release but not the groups. Relocating animals from a single parent group allows each of the affected monkeys to cope better in the new surroundings.

It would be more ideal to trap complete groups or sub-groups which should be released as a group consisting of a mixture of both adult and young ones.

Short of killing or translocation, humans need to be taught to co-exist with them as is often done in other countries.

The biggest challenge here is cleaning our environment of garbage, and especially preventing the purposeful feeding of monkeys.

This might be coupled with the establishment of monkey sanctuaries, where the public is supervised in feeding monkeys. It is a major educational campaign.

Relocation of monkey groups when done responsibly, and in accordance with the social biology of the animals, makes good conservation sense.

The other option proposed by NGOs is conflict management through sterilisation which had been discussed in the past with the Wildlife Department.

However there has been no follow up meetings or feedback from the department on the outcome of the project carried out.

Managing urban monkeys is a task which demands that those involved possess sufficient knowledge of monkeys, flexible planning and plenty of NGO and public support.

On the whole it requires those of us who believe in conservation to not only devise but also seek to implement measures directed towards resolving conflicts between conservation, on the one hand, and the local community’s needs, on the other.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia.

Tuesday November 9, 2010

Steps being taken to neutralise monkey menace

WE refer to “Relocate macaques responsibly ” (The Star, Nov 2). We truly appreciate the concerns.

The traps used by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks are designed to capture groups of monkeys for translocation into forested areas. An intact group will better adapt to the new surroundings where they are released.

However, there are instances where a few adult monkeys managed to evade the traps and remain in the area. The department is very concerned with the welfare of these monkeys.

The idea of establishing a monkey sanctuary needs to be further scrutinised and evaluated as feeding the monkeys will not only cause them to lose their natural fear of humans but also change their behaviour to become dependent on humans for food.

Furthermore, we also need to look at the possibility of transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans in the case of close contact with the monkeys.

The department is currently in its primary stage of implementing a sterilisation programme proposed by NGOs.

A pilot project is being carried out at Taman Tasik Perdana and Bukit Nenas in Kuala Lumpur.

In this regard, the department is closely monitoring the programme to improve the techniques involved. Currently, Wildlife officers from other states are also being trained to carry out sterilisation programmes on monkeys.

We believe that without understanding and support from the public, the efforts undertaken by the department to address the conflict will not be effective. We need the support of the community in resolving human-monkey conflicts.

Corporate Communications Unit,
Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

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