Hold off on culling monkeys

Straits Times Forum 4 May 13;

LONG-TAILED macaques are part of Singapore's native wildlife and must be managed in a well-informed manner ("AVA moves to control monkey problem"; Monday).

Increasingly, houses have been built near nature reserves, encroaching onto the home ranges of macaques who prefer using the forest edge and surrounding areas. Residents can take steps to live responsibly with wildlife.

I have spent many hours following monkeys, and there are simple ways to prevent conflict.

When around macaques, do not carry food or items that they associate with food, especially plastic bags. Canvas bags or backpacks are less likely to elicit unwanted approaches.

Walk calmly around macaques and maintain a respectful distance. Do not leave open windows unsupervised, and install mesh screens to prevent macaques from entering homes.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) has the ability and responsibility to develop sustainable strategies for managing human-wildlife conflict.

Trapping should not be the primary response to complaints; instead, complainants should have exhausted all necessary precautions to prevent macaque conflict on their properties.

Human behavioural change is crucial to resolving the conflict between residents and wildlife.

Indiscriminate culling will not solve the conflict and can harm the long-term health of wildlife populations, of which we are only beginning to understand.

I urge the AVA to hold off on culling operations until scientifically informed decisions regarding the necessity, location and scale of operations can be made; consult local primate researchers for help.

Our native wildlife should be treasured, appreciated and scientifically managed, especially in and around their last refuge - our nature reserves.

Amanda Tan Wei Yi (Miss)

Learn to co-exist with wildlife
Straits Times Forum 4 May 13;

THE monkey "problem" reported in Monday's article ("AVA moves to control monkey problem") was brought about by humans.

Over the years, we have been destroying and reducing their habitat. It is inevitable that some wildlife, like wild boars and snakes, will wander into roads and houses built on land where they used to roam.

Nevertheless, where there is tension between monkeys and humans, I can understand the need to "rehome" the former. But to "euthanise" them is both cruel and inhumane. It adds to the signals from government agencies that exterminating wildlife that poses an inconvenience to us is the only way to solve "problems".

Those who complain about wild creatures coming into close proximity with them should try to find ways to co-exist with the animals, or move elsewhere.

Daniel Koh Kah Soon