Malaysia announced Friday it would lift a ban on the export of long-tailed macaques in efforts to reduce the monkey's growing population in urban areas. "The cabinet has decided to lift the ban which was imposed in 1984 on the capture and export of this type of monkeys. This is because we want to reduce the number of long-tailed monkeys in urban areas," Environment Minister Azmi Khalid said.
"These monkeys create havoc in urban areas, not only stealing food from houses but also attacking people, and this is a cause for worry," the official Bernama news agency quoted Azmi saying.
He said only monkeys found in urban areas could be trapped and sent for export, adding that the lifting of the ban would not apply to the eastern Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo island.
Azmi said studies have shown that there are currently 258,406 long-tailed macaques living in urban areas in west Malaysia, while 483,747 live in the wild.
He said the government would continue to monitor the capture and export of the animals, adding that they would remain on the list of endangered animals.
"We want to make sure that long-tailed monkeys in the wild are not disturbed. We also want to ensure that monkeys caught in urban areas are not ill-treated in the process of export," he said.
"We do not want to be accused of being cruel or abusing these primates. I'm aware that there would be some opposition to this move, not only locally, but also on the foreign front."
Azmi said the government had tried other efforts to reduce the population of the animals including sterilisation, but none of them had been successful.
The long-tailed macaque, also called the Cynomolgus Monkey, is found primarily in Southeast Asia and used extensively in medical experiments, in particular those connected with neuroscience, Bernama said.