Malaysia has abandoned a controversial plan to capture and export monkeys found in urban areas after a majority of them were found to be infected with deadly diseases, a report said Saturday.
Azmi Khalid, natural resources and environment minister, said the government decided to drop the plan after at least 80 percent of the 250,000 urban monkeys were deemed unfit for export.
The long-tailed macaques were sick with diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and AIDS, he told the New Straits Times newspaper said.
"After a study was conducted recently, it was found the macaques were not suitable for export because they were infected," he said. "They were supposed to fulfil the demand for exotic meat in a few countries in Asia and in the West."
Malaysia in August last year lifted a 23-year ban on the export of long-tailed macaques from the peninsular, saying they had become an urban pest and were attacking people and stealing food.
No permits had been issued for the export of the monkeys, the report said.
Malaysia's monkey population is estimated at 700,000. They are mostly macaques or leaf monkeys.