A day after two Union ministers locked horns over culling of wild animals, over 100 NGOs working for protection of wildlife today said there is a need to move away from “quick fix” solutions, as these will aggravate human-animal conflicts.
Noting that decisions to cull animals were not in harmony with the Indian ethos of living in consonance with the nature, the NGOs, under Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), said “faulty kill and solve” policies can devastate our natural heritage.
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The FIAPO wrote to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar expressing their “distress” over the trend of declaring wild animals such as wild boar and nilgai as ‘vermin’.
They said that before even considering culling as an option, there is a need to invest time, effort and funds to address the conflict using “non-invasive” means.
“There is also serious concern about the manner in which culling orders have been issued. Decisions seem to have been taken in a random manner, with no scientific basis.
“There is little or no structured information or knowledge on which the decisions are based and there is no system in place to monitor the situation once the decision is taken,” they said in the letter.
Union ministers-Maneka Gandhi and Prakash Javadekar-had yesterday locked horns over culling of animals with the former saying there was “lust” for killing in the Environment Ministry.
Maneka, who holds the Women and Child Development portfolio and is an animal rights activist, termed as “biggest ever massacre” the recent killing of ‘nilgai’ (blue bulls) in Bihar.
Around 200 Nilgais were reported to have been gunned down in Bihar in the past one week.
“As a corollary, one may end up shooting 500 nilgai in place of the permitted 100 or even shoot other species in the absence of an effective monitoring mechanism.
“In addition, traps, poison or bombs put out to kill ‘vermin’ species may end up taking a toll on other protected wild species. All policies and decisions on human–wildlife conflict need to be based on structured information and knowledge,” they said.
The NGOs asked the Union Environment Minister to take critical steps to ensure that the myriad problems of human-wildlife conflict are mitigated or reduced in a scientific manner.
“There is a dire need to move away from these quick fix solutions that will merely aggravate human-animal conflict to long-term, sustainable planning and implementation that stresses on non-invasive and innovative methods of mitigating conflict,” the letter said.
They noted that these decisions to cull are not in harmony with the Indian ethos of living in consonance with nature.
“We wonder why at a time when the Culture ministry has initiated project Parampara to document our cultural heritage the MoEFCC is resorting to borrowing the faulty ‘kill and solve’ polices, which can devastate our natural heritage from other nations,” it said.
FIAPO said it has united over 100 animal protection organisations to oppose the move.
The organisations have also offered to help address the grave issue of human-wildlife conflict in a sustainable manner.
“A state like Telangana cannot have the same intensity of conflict across its districts and therefore, the order to cull across the state in a similar manner appears to be a case of painting the whole state with the same brush. Such policy has the horrible potential to backfire,” it said.
FIAPO said that it has filed PILs and RTIs in some states like Telangana and in others, animal protection organisations are partnering with the States to come up with solutions.
Some ‘no kill’ solutions include application of bio-pesticides with a mixture of cow urine, neem and dry chilli kept airtight for 40 days for controlling the blue bull menace and use of paraffin base and organic sources in keeping blue bulls away from fields.
It said that jatropha plantation too has been suggested as a very effective way.
The NGOs said that random culling not only causes damage to ecological cycles and poses the threat of depleting species but is also at cross-roads with policies of landscape and corridor conservation.
They stressed on the need to address the issue at landscape level as opposed to State level and call for innovative approaches to be tried out as pilots as the next step.