By: Isuru Parakrama
Colombo (LNW): The Centre for Environmental and Nature Studies (CENS) has raised strong concerns over the government’s decision to sell Toque macaques (Macaca sinica) monkeys to China, in a letter addressed to Gopal Baglay, the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, stating that the Sri Lankan government’s vaguely described justification over the action would be problematic.
“Macaca sinica is endemic only to the island of Sri Lanka, however they have a relationship with Hanuman langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) and purple-faced langurs (Trachypithecus vetulus), which are old-world monkeys native to the Indian subcontinent. Indians and Tamil Sri Lankans believe especially their ancient ancestors as gods,” CENS pointed out in its letter to the Indian High Commissioner.
Kovils and temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman bear witness to this country, the letter read, adding that the cultural aspects embodied with the existence of these creatures are valued by both Sri Lanka and India.
These species have also been listed as endangered according to the IUCN Red List because of deforestation, hunting, the pet trade and usage in the civil war of Sri Lanka, it added.
Denouncing the Sri Lankan government’s will to underestimate these roots, the CENS urges Mr. Baglay’s country, which considers monkeys are sacred, to intervene and protect these animals and not let “money sell God’s symbol and culture” to China.