It is shocking that a county with esteemed values of ahimsa (non-violence) and vegetarianism, that form the basis for animal protection orders animal culling. Culling may rather aggravate man-wildlife conflicts rather than curing it.
India has a diverse history of animal culling and hunting from the pre-colonial and colonial eras. Animal skin in the early times was considered as royal gifts, hunting of tigers was a matter of pride. Despite campaigns for animal protection around the world, culling is still prevalent. Everyone talked about the decision of the Australian government to kill another 2000 kangaroos in 2016 after killing 4000 in 2008 alone in the name of ecological balance and vegetation protection (Swoopwhoop). The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has declared the Rhesus Macaques monkey ‘vermin’ in Himachal Pradesh for a period of one year, allowing their culling to control their population (NDTV). Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, an animal activist herself, has been publicly speaking against culling in the country. She blames the Environment Ministry for permitting to kill ‘elephants in Bengal, monkeys in Himachal Pradesh, and peacocks in Goa. In Chandrapur, 53 wild boars are already killed and have been given permission to kill 50 more’ (India Today).
Shubobroto Ghosh, author of Dreaming in Calcutta and Channel Islands by Power Publishers told G’nY’s staff reporter that ‘there are certain measures that government can take to prevent animal killings. Building and maintaining reserves is one such measure. Use of bio pesticides and paraffin can act as better measurement than straightaway killing the animals.’
Bhushan Pandya, Wildlife photographer and conservationist, and Member of State Wildlife Board of Gujarat is of the opinion that ‘perhaps this is the time when the authorities have to apply wildlife management more than sticking to the age old total protection practices. Wildlife management permits culling as the last option when every other alternative has failed. And clearly, India’s wildlife management is yet to test every viable method. I feel that culling should not be done as a thumb rule in the first place especially since culling has high risk factors particularly for the animals, selective and sensible scientific approach should be taken.’
It is imperative that viable measures be taken to prevent crop damage and human casualties in the country. Yet, animals have the rights to be part of the environment and they cannot be killed merely in the name of ‘vermin’. Serious steps and actions must be taken by concerned authorities and animal culling must be stopped else the day is not far when every specie of animal in India will be considered endangered or extinct.