Malaysia: Langkawi poachers 'a threat to leaf monkeys'

Illegal hunting rampant
Sharanjit Singh New Straits Times 21 Feb 12;

A troop of dusky leaf monkeys perched atop tree branches in Langkawi. (Inset) a bullet-riddled carcass of a dusky leaf monkey hanging head down with its tail wrapped around a branch. MSN Langkawi pix
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THE heart-wrenching picture tells it all. It shows the lifeless bullet-riddled body of a dusky leaf monkey (langur) hanging head down with its stiffened tail wrapped around a tree branch.

The female primate was allegedly shot dead by local villagers at the foot of a hillside at Pantai Tengah here as it was foraging for food, with its babies in tow.

An expatriate, who has made Langkawi his home for many years, related how he had been been hearing gunshots almost daily and finally decided to check it out one evening in late January.

The foreigner, who wished to be known only as Mike, said he was shocked when he stumbled upon three men, one of whom was armed with a new 16-gauge shotgun, dragging two injured baby langur with tree roots tied around their neck.

"The baby langur were screaming and the men were shocked to see me.

"I grabbed the baby langur after they told me that the animals were pests and caused damage to their newly-planted rubber sapplings."

Mike said the men allowed him to take the babies which he later sent to a veterinary clinic on the island.

One of the babies died on the same day while the second one is now being cared for by an animal lover.

The killing of the langur, also known as "spectacled leaf monkey" for the unmistakable white patches around their eyes, has sparked concern that hunting the species, which is totally banned in Langkawi, is becoming rampant on the island.

Residents claimed to have heard gunshots in areas like Pantai Tengah and Pantai Kok, despite a hunting ban on the island, which has been declared a national eco-park.

Local conservationist Irshad Mubarak, also known as Junglewalla, said the authorities could easily track down the culprits as there were only a handful licensed firearms holders on the island.

"They are either private licence holders or Rela members so I don't see why they cannot be tracked down.

"I hope there will be more enforcement as the fruiting season has started in Langkawi. More langur may be killed when they start raiding the fruit orchards," said Irshad.

Malaysian Nature Society Langkawi chairman Eric Sinnaya said they had recently teamed up with relevant departments including the Langkawi Development Authority, the district council and the Wildlife and National Parks Department to form a conservation team.

"By next month, the team can help identify and nab the culprits."

Meanwhile, Kedah Wildlife and National Parks department director Rahim Ahmad said they were investigating the allegation but had yet to detain any suspects.

"We have stepped up surveillance and enforcement in areas where the hunting activity is said to be taking place."


THE dusky leaf monkey, which is also known as the spectacled langur or spectacled leaf monkey (Trachypithecus obscurus), is a species of primate found mainly in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

IT is a shy, interesting-looking creature with large white circles around each eye, giving these little primates the appearance of sporting eyeglasses.

IN addition to white circles around each eye, the it also has white skin surrounding its mouth and a creamy white colour around its stomach.

ALTHOUGH the adult dusky leaf monkey is typically grey, or brown in colour, the babies are born bright orange.

DUSKY leaf monkeys typically live in troops that have an average of 10 to 17 animals.

DURING the day, the troop will splinter into smaller groups to forage through the trees.

DUSKY leaf monkeys prefer to feed on young leaves, although it will also eat fruits, preferably unripe, and flowers.

AT night, the monkeys will regroup, and then bed down for the evening in the trees.

PREDATORS of this species include snakes and large birds of prey.

HUMANS also hunt these monkeys and loss of habitat has become a problem for the dusky leaf monkey.

CURRENTLY, these monkeys are listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Probe into Langkawi monkey shootings, department urged
New Straits Times 23 Feb 12;

GEORGE TOWN: Conservationists are urging the authorities to act quickly to save the near-threatened dusky leaf monkeys, which are being killed indiscriminately in Langkawi.

TRAFFIC Southeast Asia deputy regional director Chris R. Shepherd said the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) should investigate the shootings of the monkeys.

"It was disturbing to read news of the monkeys being shot.

"Perhilitan must investigate if the killing of the monkeys is limited to locals, or if there are people from outside the island hunting the animals for sport."

He added an investigation was also needed to determine if locals were collecting young monkeys after killing the parents.

He said the investigation should find out if the monkeys weretraded illegally as pets.

Shepherd said the killings pointed to the need for better monitoring and management of people with gun licences and permits in Langkawi.

He said if investigations revealed that it was simply a case of dealing with an agricultural pest, then Perhilitan, as well as agricultural and land planning authorities, should engage locals to find solutions.

"Surely, Langkawi's wildlife deserves better protection. The island is a well-known eco-tourism destination and it does not bode well for its reputation if visitors are greeted by protected species hanging, dead, from trees."

He said people who had information of illegal hunting and trade of dusky leaf monkeys, or other protected species, should call the MYCAT wildlife crime hotline at 019-3564194.

The New Straits Times on Monday reported that dusky leaf monkeys were being killed in Langkawi, where the hunting of animals is prohibited. Residents said gunshots could be heard in Pantai Tengah and Pantai Kok.

Kedah Perhilitan director Rahim Ahmad said the department had stepped up surveillance and enforcement in areas where hunting was said to be taking place.