Taiwan probes suspected poisoning deaths of macaques

Beijing, May 4 (IANS) Taiwan’s forestry and police authority is investigating the alleged poisoning of six protected indigenous macaques, including two that were pregnant, media reported on Wednesday.

An adult female macaque was found dead on March 20 in a mountainous area of Changhua county by researchers who were conducting a survey on the protected animal species, a local newspaper reported.

The team discovered the body after a tourist told them about an unusual smell.

High levels of pesticide residue were found in the macaque’s stomach, according to tests.

On April 15 and 16, five more dead macaques were discovered in the same area, according to a Nantou forestry official.

Two of the dead macaques were pregnant. Another had no visible injuries, but the autopsy revealed it had suffered a subcutaneous haemorrhage in many parts of its body — injuries that led vets to suspect that the macaque had been poisoned.

Four bodies were seriously decomposed when they were found. Researchers removed multiple plastic bags, filled with fruit, that had been hung on trees in the area. The bags and contents were undergoing tests.

“Generally, feeders do not go to the trouble of hanging food on trees for these animals,” said the official.

There are about 200 macaques living in the mountainous area and they usually interact well with visitors, said another official. “It is the first time such an incident has been reported.”

The macaques are protected in Taiwan. The government and police were probing the incident and have increased patrols to prevent poaching or slaughter.

–IANS

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