AR-News: Malaysiakini covers the gorilla scandal
smcgreal at ippl.org
Wed Feb 4 00:16:45 EST 2004
Cameroon wants gorillas back where they belong
12:45:35 PM Jan 31, 2004
Cameroon said that the four smuggled gorillas, dubbed the "Taiping Four,"
should be returned to their land of origin and not to a South African zoo.
Cameroonian officials was quoted in a Reuters report as saying that they
planned to turn the question of relocation of the animals into a "hot
issue" at the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered
CITES is an international treaty that bans the selling or trading of apes
caught from the wild, which all four countries involved in the dispute -
Cameroon, Malaysia, South Africa and Nigeria - are parties to.
In July last year, Science Technology and Environment Minister Law Hieng
Deng <http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/2003070900111160.php>announced that
the four gorillas would be sent to Pretoria Zoo "as soon as possible".
Cameroon, who has long insisted the return of the gorillas, however said
that if they were sent to Pretoria Zoo, they might only be there temporarily.
"South Africa can go ahead and build the best infrastructure in the world
and have them for now. Our concern is that in the end they come back to
Cameroon," said Stephen Takang Ebai, director of wildlife at the Cameroon
Environment Ministry who was quoted by Reuters.
Consider the alternatives
Responding to questions e-mailed by malaysiakini, International Primate
Protection League (IPPL) chairperson Shirley McGreal also expressed her
disapproval for the selection of Pretoria Zoo as the new home for the
"We don't understand how Pretoria Zoo was selected to receive the gorillas.
Its record with gorillas is not good (3 of 4 adults dead and 2 out of 2
babies died)," she said.
"Further, it is the national zoo of South Africa and the gorillas had been
smuggled through Johannesburg Airport in South Africa and had been carried
on South African Airways,
"It seems strange to us that Malaysia should decide where the illegally
obtained animals should go and that it should choose a zoo in a country
that took part in the original crime,"said McGreal.
She stressed that the IPPL considers the Limbe Wildlife Center in Cameroon
to be the best place for the gorillas as the center currently keeps 12
confiscated gorillas in "excellent condition".
McGreal also said that the smuggling of wildlife primate is an
international crime which is driving certain animals into extinction.
"It is destroying species that have taken millions of years to evolve. In
the case of gorillas, they only breed every 5-6 years and so, the trade is
Gorillas near extinction
The four Western lowland gorillas, an endangered species, were believed to
have been smuggled out via Nigeria.
"The animals were smuggled from Nigeria on documents stating that they were
all born at the
University of Ibadan Zoo whose only gorilla is a lonely female. An official
Nigerian Presidential Investigative Commission confirmed that their true
country of origin was Cameroon," explained McGreal.
They were then brought to Taiping Zoo in Jan 2002, a move which Environment
Minister Law claimed "some parties had deliberately misled" him into
signing an import permit containing a false declaration that the purchase
was approved by CITES.
Taiping Zoo had also earlier
<http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/200204260015385.php>claimed that the
acquisition of the gorillas was part of an exchange programme and that it
was not a trade, as they had the documents to support their claim.
An anonymous source from Taiping Zoo told malaysiakini that the gorillas,
currently aged four to seven, are well nurtured and have adapted well to
their present environment.
However, the source said that they were unable to exhibit the gorillas due
to the amount of controversy that surrounds the issue.
A Malaysiakini journalist was not allowed to see the gorillas during a
visit to the zoo last week.
Dr. Shirley McGreal, Chairwoman
International Primate Protection League
POB 766, Summerville SC 29484-0766, USA
Ph. 843-871-2280 Fax. 843-871-7988
E-mail: smcgreal at ippl.org, Website www.ippl.org
"We need not think alike to love alike." Francis David
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