Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Stop killing wild animals for govt reward: MP appeals to SC

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Use other scientific methods to stop destruction to property, without indiscriminate killings, says plea

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking action against the practice of encouraging and rewarding the killing of wild animals, declared as vermin killing in India. The petition was filed by Anubhav Mohanty, BJP MP from Kendrapara Odisha.

The petition was a fallout of the recent tragic death of a wild elephant in the Silent Valley National Park in Kerala’s Palakkad district, after it ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers. The pregnant elephant died of fatal injuries inside her mouth caused by the explosive-laden fruit. Such fruits are often kept by villagers to kill wild boars that destroy vegetation. Wild boars have been declared as vermin by the government.

This particular petition has not only stopped at protecting animals who may be mistakenly killed by such action, but even those animals which have been declared vermin. Apart from the fact that vegetation is destroyed, such killing of vermin-declared animals are often associated with a reward from the government.

This appeal by the MP has been lauded in a press release by ‘India’s largest animal welfare organization’, the People for Animals and Humane Society International. The petition is against this indiscriminate killing and for seeking alternative ways to stop such ‘vermin’.

The release says that many state governments, such as Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala “have even financially incentivized the killing of wild animals such as neelgai, rhesus macaque and wild boar.

“Unfortunately a popular way of getting rewarded by the state governments is by planting bombs and poison in our forests. The petition is in response to the death of several animals and a child after use of heinous practices such snares, wire traps, explosives, bomb baits, poison baits etc. were reported and documented to destroy wild animals.”

The press release calls this “a direct result of faulty policies of the central and state governments.” The MP’s petition specifically asks for directions against states which are rewarding and encouraging killing of wild animals which is leading to usage of “bomb baits” and “poison baits”.

Mohanty has, in his petition, reiterated that the protection rendered to animals is enshrined under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 even though they may be declared as vermin under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The petition seeks for proactive, constructive and a scientific ways forward to mitigate the human-wildlife conflict, instead of encouraging citizens of the country to kills such wild animals.

Mohanty said in his petition: “Currently, there are no proper guidelines in place for the purpose dealing with man-animal conflict. This has led to the emergence of haphazard, unscientific and excessive policies being exercised by Central and state governments.

This encourages poachers and the public to hunt animals. Man–animal conflict is a serious issue and we must look at scientific methods such immunocontraception (the use of an animal’s immune system to prevent it from fertilizing offspring), community sensitization, creation of rapid response teams for coordinating and managing conflict to ensure our animals are not hunted.”

He added: “Not only do animals and children suffer because of these violent actions, our farmers also incur heavy losses due to the inaction of governments. By expediting financial compensation for crop damage, we must support our food givers. With the current trends, neither will our animals survive nor will our farmers. We must think for the good of both.”

The fact is that as a result of such indiscriminate hunting, non-target animals, such as elephants, leopards, tigers, jackals and even cows fall prey to such unwarranted methods of elimination. They die painful and agonizing deaths. It is estimated by the forest department of Kerala that from 2012 to 2020, 24 tigers and 110 leopards have been killed by wire snares in Kerala alone. It also has the potential to cause grievous injuries to humans as well.

– India Legal Bureau

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