Twenty six animal rights activists including Otara Gunewardene have filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal challenging the proposed capture and exportation of 100,000 Toque Macaque monkeys to China.
Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera had recently publicly announced that the Government was considering a request by the Chinese Government to export 100,000 Toque Macaque monkeys, which are endemic to Sri Lanka to China ostensibly for the display at Chinese zoos.
When the matter came up before the Court of Appeal, notices were issued on the respondents including Minister of Agriculture and members of Cabinet returnable for May 19. The Court of Appeal decided to issue notices on the respondents taking into consideration the facts presented by President's Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardena who appeared on behalf of the petitioners.
Sri Lankan entrepreneur and animal welfare advocate Otara Gunewardene, Ven. Matara Ananda Sagara Thero, Rukshan Amal Jayewardene, Sonali Fernando, Iromi Ahilya Salgado, Dumindra Rajith Ratnayaka, Sharadha Manorama de Saram, Stefanie Wege – Aluwihare, Pushpadeva Dharmawardena, Randika Prabodha Fernando, Christine Bianca Shivanthi Perera, Tara Dilkushi Wickramanayake, Tara Dilkushi Wickramanayake, Bandula Pathmasiri Panapitiya, Rushika Nadiya De Lanerolle, Jayamaha Mudalige Don Irangani, Wijenayake Pathiranage Wipulasena and ten others filed this petition challenging the Minister's decision to export 100,000 Toque Macaque monkeys, which are endemic to Sri Lanka to China.
The petitioners stated that there are three recognized subspecies of the endemic toque macaque: the dry zone toque macaque (M.s. sinica), wet zone toque macaque (M.s. aurifrons) and highland toque macaque (M.s. opisthomelas) in Sri Lanka. The 1977 survey estimated there were 439,000 macaques in the dry zone, 150,000 in the lowland wet zone and 1,500 individuals of the montane subspecies.
The petitioners are seeking an order in the nature of Writ of Certiorari, quashing any decisions of the respondents from approving or permitting the exportation of toque macaque monkeys of Sri Lanka to China.
The Petitioners maintained that the Sri Lankan wildlife is protected under the provisions of theFauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO) No. 02 of 1937 and under Section 40 of the FFPO, provides that no person shall export any mammal, bird,reptile, amphibian, fish, coral or invertebrate whether dead or alive, except under the authority of apermit issued in the prescribed form obtained from the prescribed officer on payment of the prescribed fee.
The petitioners further said such Such permit shall not be issued except for the promotion of scientific knowledge including supplies to foreign museums, foreign zoological gardens in exchange for supplies to local museums or local zoological gardens.
President's Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardena with counsel Lakmini Warusevitane appeared for the petitioners. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)
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