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When Protectors turn Hunters



The environment ministry’s empowering of states to hunt animals deemed to be ‘vermin’ amounts to taking the easiest route out of the crisis.

Archana Mishra
2015-09-05 , Issue 35 Volume 12

The Central government seems to have found a silver bullet to tackle rising humananimal conflict. In an unusual move, the environment minister Prakash Javadekar has highlighted a provision under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, to declare wild animals as vermin — animals creating nuisance, who could be killed.

“In areas where farmers are facing huge problems due to animals like blue bull and wild boar, there is a procedure to declare them as ‘vermin’ for a particular period of time. We will give them (states) permission to declare such animals as vermin,” said Javadekar recently. If the provision is implemented, the states would be free to hunt these animals.

In the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s (MOEFCC) quest for economic growth, wildlife protection seems to be just a pesky hindrance. Unsurprisingly, in all these years, the one quick-fix for the man-animal conflict has been the killing of animals. So, how does giving a freehand to the state for slaughter reconcile with the ministry’s commitment to protect the forests and wildlife?

“It is an easy, but ineffective, way to deal with the human-animal conflict as it does nothing to address the root cause of the issue — human encroachment and cutting down of forests,” says Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs, PETA India.

“Ecological balance cannot be restored through the barrel of a gun,” he says. “The spirit of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 is clear — it is to protect and preserve wildlife. The concept of vermin contradicts Article A(g) of The Constitution of India, which says that it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen of India to protect forests, wildlife and have compassion for all living creatures,” adds Valliyate.

The ministry does appear to be taking the easiest route out of the crisis.

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