Cash-strapped According to the agricultural minister, Sri Lanka is looking into the idea of exporting 100,000 endangered monkeys to China, one of its biggest bilateral creditors.
The toque macaque is unique to Sri Lanka and widespread there, however it is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The proposed transaction occurs as Sri Lanka experiences its worst-ever economic crisis and prohibits practically all exports of live animals. Financial information was not disclosed.
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told AFP that “they want the monkeys for over 1,000 zoos they have across China.” I’ve formed a committee to look into the issue and determine how to proceed. Because they destroy crops, raid villages in search of food, and occasionally attack humans, monkeys are regarded as pests in Sri Lanka.
This year, Sri Lanka delisted a number of species, including all three of its monkey species, peacocks, and wild boars, allowing farmers to slaughter them.
Considering that there hasn’t been a comprehensive survey of macaques in more than 40 years, The Environmental Foundation, a Sri Lankan organisation dedicated to animal welfare, opposed the proposed sale and suggested that a full population study come first.
The foundation’s Jagath Gunawardana told reporters in Colombo, “We want to know why they want so many monkeys—whether it is for meat, medical research, or some other purpose. Despite being on the worldwide red list of endangered species, monkeys are not a protected species in Sri Lanka, according to Gunawardana. The IUCN did not immediately respond with a statement.
Official estimates for the number of toque macaques in Sri Lanka range from two million to three million.
Gunawardana cited the dwindling wild animal habitats caused by agricultural growth as one factor in the rise in human-animal conflict, particularly that with monkeys and elephants.