Outrage over Malaysia monkey cull
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Outrage over Malaysia monkey cull

Wildlife campaigners have condemned the Malaysian government for using "inhumane" methods in culling almost 100,000 macaque monkeys last year.

Animal rights groups are angry about the Malaysian government's cull of macaque monkeys. Figures show that almost 100,000 monkeys were killed in the cull last year. (Patipat Janthong)

Animal rights group ROAR claimed animals are being trapped in cages, as many as 12 at a time, before being shot. The group said it also has evidence of macaques being shot as they sit in trees.

Activists are now calling on the government to put more emphasis on work to relocate or sterilise the monkeys, in light of official figures showing that 97,119 monkeys were culled last year across the country.

But the government said the monkey population must be curbed, to deal with increasing problems caused by the creatures. 

“The culling was not done in haste, but in the best interests of the public,” a government statement provided to Al Jazeera said.

“Macaques are prolific and able to reproduce very fast, so there is no question of the species being threatened into extinction through culling.

“The objective is also to protect human safety [and] reduce economic losses due to damage done by wildlife to commercial crops and property. We have to see the bigger picture rather than just focusing on the numbers.”

Michael Gumert, an assistant professor at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University and expert on macaques in Southeast Asia, said there is currently no reliable data on the macaque population in the region. 

He argued that without such data, any cull would be little more than “guess work”. He added: “Problems with macaques are generally a good measure of the overall severity of environmental problems and poor waste management.”

But Maketab Mohamed, president of the Malaysian Nature Society and director of Occupational Safety, Health and the Environment at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), said their campus had suffered the scourge of macaques.

“They raid garbage, raid the fruits clean off our fruit trees and even attack students,” Maketab said in an email to Al Jazeera. “Personally, I will say I support the culling - and any critic is welcome to buy a house in a macaque-infested neighbourhood.”

The government claimed a 2007 “inventory” of the macaque population showed there were 740,000 macaques across peninsular Malaysia. However, it said this figure could have grown by as much as 7% a year since the inventory.

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