Thursday, 20 April 2023 00:52 –      – 27

From Left:  WNPS Head of Legal Revan Weerasinghe, Senior Lecturer at the Wayamba University Dr. Sevvandi Jayakody, Primatologist Dr. Wolfgang Dittus, WNPS committee member Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Professor of Zoology, University of Colombo Prof. Sampath Seneviratne

 

  • Embassy says Chinese National Forestry and Grassland Administration has said it is unaware of such a request and has not received any applications for the purpose
  • Claims China always attaches great importance to wildlife protection and actively fulfils international obligations
  • But a document released to the media shows Zhejiang Wuyu Animal Breeding Co. Limited, a Chinese animal breeding company has in fact requested for monkeys from the Agriculture Ministry 
  • Environmentalists and Conservationist raise questions on who is behind push to export monkeys and says will oppose move

By Maneshka Borham

The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka issuing a statement yesterday denied having any knowledge of a request to export Toque Macaques to China from Sri Lanka. The embassy said it noticed recent disinformation on local and foreign media that Sri Lanka is to export a hundred thousand endangered Toque Macaque monkeys to a Chinese private company for experimental purposes along with detailed clarifications by the Minister of Agriculture and the Cabinet Spokesperson of Sri Lanka.

In the statement, the embassy said on inquiry the Chinese National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the main government entity supervising and managing the import and export of wild animals and plants said it is not aware of such a request and has not received an application from any party for the purpose.

“The Embassy would like to further stress that as a contracting party of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), China has already adopted its Wildlife Protection Law in 1988 with several amendments afterwards. The Chinese government always attaches great importance to wildlife protection and actively fulfils international obligations, which makes China one of the top countries in the world in terms of wildlife protection legislation and law enforcement,” the statement further read.

However, a document released to the media yesterday showed Zhejiang Wuyu Animal Breeding Co. Limited, a Chinese animal breeding company had in fact written to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Agriculture on 10 March to request the export of ‘crop damaging’ monkeys to be placed in zoos owned by the company for exhibition purposes. Nevertheless, confusion continues to reign about the move after Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena denied any discussions have been held to export Toque Macaques to China. Instead, he claimed the proposal was merely put forward to the cabinet by the Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amarweera. But just days ago Amaraweera told the media that several rounds of discussions have already been held on the matter.

Holding a press conference in Colombo yesterday a group of environmentalists and conservationists voiced their opposition to the possible export of monkeys and vowed to fight against it. The experts questioned who was pushing for the monkeys to be exported and claimed this fact remains elusive. However, they also said the project will be a non-starter as the export of wildlife remains legally complex. Speaking at the press conference Dr. Sevvandi Jayakody, a leading conservationist and echinodermologist said exporting monkeys would only be a short-term solution and wildlife management decisions cannot be taken overnight. “We need sustainable solutions,” she said, adding that it is a mistake to make such decisions without a scientific basis.

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