Sarban Singh, The Star | May 25, 2021
Malaysians are aghast over the culling of some 20 dusky langurs in Port Dickson and are demanding answers from the authorities.
Animal lovers and wildlife experts have decried the decision allegedly taken by officers from the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) to cull them, arguing that other methods should have been employed to deal with the primates which were not known to be aggressive.
Some 20 dusky langurs, believed to be from the same family, were apparently shot dead near a residential area last Wednesday.
In a joint statement, the Malaysian Primatological Society and Langur Project Penang said such drastic action was unnecessary as aggression by dusky langurs, protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, was extremely rare.
They said that dusky langurs were an extremely shy and gentle primate, and under normal circumstances, preferred the sanctuary of the forest rather than seeking to be near human settlements, unlike macaques.
All parties, they added, must develop a culture of respect for wildlife in urban spaces.
Along with other native Malaysian wildlife, they said dusky langurs were an important part of our natural heritage, and were widely promoted in ecotourism and wildlife watching activities.
Lawyers for Animal Rights asked how could an endangered species be shot en masse.
Animal rights activist and lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan said Perhilitan and the police must investigate the incident under the Animal Welfare Act 2015.
“We demand that Perhilitan investigate and prosecute every single officer who is complicit in this barbaric murder of poor defenceless creatures, ” he said.
International photojournalist author and publisher David S.T. Loh also described the incident as shocking.
“Langurs are such gentle herbivores. They are shy, timid and generally will run away when humans approach them.
“With all my travelling within Malaysia, I have yet to see one aggressive langur. It is shocking that Perhilitan shot dead a family of an endangered species, ” he said, adding that he found it difficult to believe that these harmless primates would attack people.
Save a Stray Malaysia founder Jacqueline Tsang said the department might have acted hastily in this instance.
“Their action is tantamount to being trigger-happy. There surely is an alternative to culling, ” she said when contacted.
Gibbon Conservation Society president Mariani Ramili said the culling of primates did not solve problems, and that Perhilitan should collaborate with experts from non-governmental wildlife organisations to revise and enforce wildlife management policies.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first human-wildlife conflict is handled with culling. We have already lost our Sumatran rhino, and are struggling to conserve our Malayan Tiger, so how can we kill our other wildlife species?” she asked.
Malaysian Nature Society president Prof Ahmad Ismail said although Perhilitan might have been acting on a public complaint, it should have looked at other options rather than killing animals listed as endangered.
Attempts to get a response from Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hisham were unsuccessful, although queries were sent last Friday.