Court Fixes Date for Hearing Petition Against Export of Toque Macaque Monkeys to China


The Court of Appeal has scheduled the hearing of a writ petition challenging the proposed exportation of 100,000 Toque Macaque monkeys to China by animal rights organizations and activists. The two-judge bench, consisting of Justices Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne and M.A.R. Marikkar, fixed the date for May 26.

During the proceedings, the Attorney General requested additional time to present facts on behalf of the respondents. President’s Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardena represented the petitioners in court.

The controversy arose after Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera publicly disclosed that the Sri Lankan government is considering China’s request to export the endemic Toque Macaque Monkeys for display in Chinese zoos.

The petitioners include various wildlife conservation groups and individuals such as Otara Gunewardene and Ven. Matara Ananda Sagara Thero, are seeking a Writ of Certiorari to invalidate any decisions permitting the exportation of these monkeys. They argue that the export would violate the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO) No. 02 of 1937, which safeguards Sri Lanka’s wildlife.

According to the petitioners, Sri Lanka is home to three recognized subspecies of Toque Macaque monkeys: the dry zone toque macaque (M.s. Sinica), wet zone toque macaque (M.s. aurifrons), and highland toque macaque (M.s. opisthomelas). A 1977 survey estimated the population at 439,000 in the dry zone, 150,000 in the lowland wet zone, and 1,500 individuals of the montane subspecies.

Under Section 40 of the FFPO, it is illegal to export any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, coral, or invertebrate without a permit issued by the prescribed officer. Such permits are generally issued for scientific purposes or as part of an exchange program between local and foreign museums or zoological gardens.

The upcoming court hearing will determine the fate of the proposed export and address the concerns raised by the petitioners regarding the potential impact on the conservation of these primates in Sri Lanka.

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