Wed, Apr 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Bureau mulls macaques’ status

PROTECTIONS:Research into macaques’ population distribution, age structure, size, growth trends and stress levels shows that protection might no longer be necessary

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer

The Forestry Bureau said Formosan rock macaques could be taken off the protected species list and a decision would be made after the Wildlife Conservation Advisory Committee meets in June, the Chinese-language United Daily News said on Sunday.

Bureau Conservation Division director Hsia Jung-sheng (夏榮生) told the newspaper that experts consulted at a recent conference recommended that the bureau exclude the macaque from the protected species list.

After reviewing the macaque population’s distribution, age structure, size, growth trends and stress levels, the experts said they believe it is no longer necessary for the government to take special actions to protect the species, Hsia said.

However, any determination on changing the protected status of a species must be confirmed by the committee, which routinely meets to review such cases, he said.

Tunghai University professor of life science Lin Liang-kung (林良恭) said there are an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 macaques, up from 200,000 in 2000.

Over the past 18 years, the government has increased the number of national parks and conservation areas, while the hunting and trapping of macaques have abated significantly, he said.

Additionally, Lin said his research suggests that female macaques are procreating at three years old, down from age five or six previously observed, leading to the population’s improved fecundity.

The faster development of the macaques is likely due to better nutrition from being fed by humans or raiding farm crops, he said.

While downgrading the macaques’ status would exclude them from special consideration extended to protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法), other legal restrictions on the hunting and domestication of wildlife would still apply, Lin said.

He said that although the act authorizes the killing of animals not on the protected species list that endanger crops, most farmers interviewed by his research team expressed an antipathy to killing macaques.

“It is unlikely that deregulation will be followed by a significant uptick in macaque hunting,” Lin said.

The government’s efforts on macaque conservation have grown increasingly unpopular over the past few years, particularly among farmers and homeowners in areas that are also inhabited by macaques.

Reports of macaques raiding farms and private residences for food and attacking people have increased, while the operations of the Taiwan High Speed Rail and other mass transit systems had been disrupted by stray macaques.

In January, the Kaohsiung City Government passed an ordinance banning the feeding of macaques, with offenders risking fines of up to NT$10,000, to discourage macaques from migrating into urban areas.

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