PETALING JAYA - Outraged animal lovers took to the Internet after a picture of a macaque with its fingers apparently blown off by firecrackers went viral.
In the photo posted by one Shah Mikail on Facebook on Friday, which had since been shared 23,609 times and given 32,063 likes, the torn limb of the macaque could clearly be seen.
Shah had written that the animal had apparently picked up a firecracker thrown at it, thinking that it was food, before it exploded.
"How is it going to find food, climb trees?" he wrote. Yesterday, in an update, he said the animal was dead.
It was also reported on blog Siakapkeli that the macaque was hit and run over by a car some time after the incident with the firecrackers.
The animal was rushed to a vet but died from internal injuries.
Although the blog report said the incident had occurred in Taman TAR, Ampang, it could not be determined when or where the Facebook photo was taken or whether it had actually been doctored.
Malaysians reacted angrily to the picture with one Facebook user Adibah Najib asking: "Where is this? Can someone do something?"
Malaysian Nature Society head of communications Andrew Sebastian said regardless of whether the incident really happened, the message was clear.
"Even if this cannot be verified, the public must know that injuring wildlife is against the law and inhumane."
Malaysian Abused Animals Welfare and Rescue founder and ex-president Vidhya Pulainthiran described the public reaction as heartening.
"The strong reaction shows that Malaysians have a heart and they are finally speaking up and taking action. It wasn't so years ago. People weren't really bothered about animal rights then," she said.
She urged anyone with evidence of the incident to come forward so that action could be taken against those responsible.
"If anyone tells me the animal is a pest, I will say you are the real pest. Humans have no right to tell animals they don't belong in our world."
Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S.M. Mohamad Idris called for an immediate investigation.
"The perpetrators should be charged. A deterrent sentence is a must. Animals should be accorded humane treatment.
"They must be protected," he said.