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China Slams ‘Disinformation’ on Proposal to Import Sri Lankan Monkeys

© AP Photo / Gurinder OsanA monkey eats a watermelon offered by a visitor at the rock fortress in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009.
A monkey eats a watermelon offered by a visitor at the rock fortress in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009. - Sputnik India, 1920, 19.04.2023
Sri Lanka’s Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said last week that the population of toque macaque, which is native to Sri Lanka, has exceeded three million. He said it was a menace to the farming community.
Beijing has slammed “disinformation” in local and foreign media on a proposal to import endangered toque macaques from Sri Lanka, amid reports that the monkey species could be allegedly used for the purpose of experiments in Chinese labs.
The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka said on Wednesday that the reports claiming that 100,000 monkeys have been sought by a Chinese company are "totally incorrect". It also said that a private Chinese company has "initiated a rough proposal" to import the monkeys, which was only for the purpose of "zoo display".
“The Embassy has also checked with relevant authorities in Beijing. The Chinese National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the main government department supervising and managing the import and export of wild animals and plants, clearly clarified that it is not aware of the request and has not received such an application from any side,” as per the embassy statement.
A zookeepers takes care of sick elephant named 'Noor Jehan' resting on a mound of sand at a zoo, in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday, April 15, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 19.04.2023
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The embassy underlined that as a party of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Beijing attaches “great importance” to wildlife protection and fulfilling its international obligations, underlining that China is one of the “top countries in the world” in terms of wildlife protection.

Sri Lanka Mulling China's Proposal on Import of Monkeys

The clarification from the embassy comes after Colombo said this week that it had appointed a committee to evaluate the proposal from a Chinese private company.
"This is not a discussion between the Sri Lankan government and the Chinese government but with a Chinese company," Sri Lanka’s cabinet spokesperson Bandula Gunawardana told a briefing this week.
The Sri Lankan official said that the private Chinese company wanted to display the monkeys at zoos across China. He didn’t reveal the name of the Chinese firm.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara has backed the proposal, saying those who oppose it should see the damages caused by the mammals to the farming communities.

Sri Lankan Animal Rights’ Groups Fear Lab Experiments

The proposal has raised hackles of animal rights activists in Sri Lanka over fears that the monkeys could be used for lab experiments.

A joint statement by four conservation groups, reported in Sri Lankan media, alleges that each of the 18 zoos in China will have to house around 5,000 monkeys if the export order goes through.

Sri Lankan activists have said that “the potential income from such a trade would be far greater than that from the sale of this species to zoos”.
Macaque species, due to their human-like qualities, are sadly popular for lab experiments in the United States and European Union (EU). At the same time, toque macaques, which are only found in Sri Lanka, are considered endangered, according tp the Union for Conservation of Nature's red list.
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