Should animals considered a nuisance be culled as vermin for ‘scientific magement’ of human-animal conflicts? The rendra Modi government is presently seized of this question, with a spat breaking out between Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi and Environment and Forests minister Prakash Javadekar. Mincing no words, Gandhi has lambasted the Environment ministry’s ‘lust for killing animals’. A prominent animal rights activist, Gandhi has pointed out that permission is being given ‘to kill elephants in Bengal, monkeys in Himachal, wild boar in Maharashtra and peacocks in Goa’. Javadekar has in turn said that such permissions are given on the ‘recommendation of state governments when farmers suffer due to crop damage by animals’. However, a statement issued by his ministry has denied that permission was given for culling of deer, peacock or elephant, though there have been complaints from five states against wild boars, monkeys and nilgai. Scientific magement in specific areas were allowed for a limited time as per existing law, the statement added, referring to Section 62 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. So whether animal welfare perspective or ecological magement perspective should be given precedence is something the Union government must work out fast.
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