Nature Alert misleading the public on orangutans

Posted on January 25, 2012. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

From Yamuna Perimalu, via e-mail (Head of Corporate Communications, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE))

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) together with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) would like to address the issues raised by Sean Whyte, CEO of Nature Alert in FMT on Jan 11, with regards to the news of orangutans being abused at Melaka Zoo.

The Ministry and the Department are highly concerned with the way Nature Alert is misleading the public by issuing pictures taken at certain angles that doesn’t depict the way orangutans managed by Zoo Melaka. The pictures were taken only to form a perception among the public that these orangutans are badly managed which is the ultimate objective of this UK based NGO.

It is important to note that anybody can take pictures of orangutans in their respective cages and claim that they are being abused because as it is a well known fact that pictures may tell a hundred stories but not the truth. The truth can only be discovered by conducting a thorough check with the respective zoo management about the issue and not by just producing pictures to mislead the public.

In this aspect, the Ministry has clarified the issue in a leading newspaper last week which can be found at this link http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/1/7/nation/10213526&sec=nation

In this regard, we also would like to reiterate that the government led by the Prime Minister pays utmost importance on transparency in handling all issues ranging from rakyat’s welfare to wildlife welfare. This government fully believes that with elements of transparency, openness and integrity, any issue can be resolved amicably.

With this kind of approaches in our way of doing things, we had extended our invitation to Mr Whyte for a visit to A Famosa Resort to view and analyse the newly built enclosures for orangutans but regrettably, Mr Whyte refused to accept our invitation.

The session was a success in gathering feedback, expert opinions and knowledge from all the NGOS present which showed their commitment in managing the wellbeing of our orangutans. Mr Whyte’s refusal to join the said group of NGOS to analyse, discuss or provide feedbacks in managing orangutans in our zoos clearly shows that Mr Whyte’s has a different priority.

As a Ministry responsible to safeguard the biodiversity in this country, we welcome feedback, criticism, opinions and so forth and this can be seen clearly with our involvement with NGOS in resolving issues related to wildlife. We have been working very closely with our NGOs in various fields and would expect the same from from Nature Alert.

Since orangutans are Malaysia’s natural heritage, the concern for the environment and welfare of the orangutans and other wildlife  is not the monopoly of any party including Nature Alert. We are equally as concerned, if not more, hence, issues of orangutan welfare and management should not be an issue to be manipulated by any party.

Being the second oldest zoo in Malaysia, further improvement is needed to upgrade the existing facilities and this will be undertaken from time to time. These actions need thorough planning and executed accordingly in line with the new zoo guidelines to be enforced soon. Here, we would like to invite all our stakeholders to share their knowledge, experiences and feedbacks for better management of zoos in time to come.

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