The Himachal Pradesh government has backed a farmer outfit's plan to shoot monkeys and other animals on sight in order to prevent damage to crops. Kheti Bachao Sangarsh Samiti (KBSS) encouraged the farmers to apply to conservators of forests and divisional forest officers for permits allowing the mass shooting of monkeys, but also wild boars and blue bulls. Their goal was to secure 10,000 permits by December 9, and so far they claim to have obtained 3,000. "Operation Monkey" started on Dec. 10 and will end on Dec. 23, so there is still time to prevent more shootings.
Campaign of Forest Department failed in the initial stage as local people refuse their cooperation saying it was a ‘futile exercise’ and not solution of their problem. Office bearers of Kheti Bachao Samiti, organizers of campaign even does not favour this action. ‘Don’t hurt religious feeling’, says Panchyati Raj Representatives. Environmentalists say firing in the forest would disturb wild life in the area.
NAHAN JULY: Local residents of Renuka area have not welcomed the action of state Forest Department launched in collaboration with the Kheti Bachao Sanghrash Samiti [KBSS] of Himachal Pradesh for the ‘scientific culling’of simians in 15 Panlchyats of Sangrah Development Block. People say that it was not the solution of their severe problem of monkey menace which has put the whole agriculture in the deep crises and residents were fighting to earn their two ends despite having enough agriculture land.
Putting a question mark on the prospects of the ‘culling campaign’ in its beginning, people of the area have reacted sharply and expressed their concern over the firing in the nearby forests by the people not known to them. They said that even firing on monkeys was taking place during late evening and night hours. They say that if in the evening hours monkeys were fired at they do not run away and hide in the same hideout, they call such killings as ‘unscientific killings’. A large number of residents of Sangrah Block contacted by this correspondent expressed surprise over this operation by ‘totally untrained people and forest staff’, who even does not know difference between ‘Scientific Culling’ and ‘Unscientific Killing’, they say.
Residents says that now a days the crop of Maize was still to bear fruit, monkeys were not very oftenly seen in the fields, shooters were entering the forests, most of them reserve forests to kill the monkeys. People questions as how shooting in the reserve forests was going on. Common people were quite unaware as what was going on in the nearby forests as villagers alleged that they were not being taken into the confidence about the firing schedule, they fear that in such circumstances any mishap may occur. People also alleged that the campaign had hurt their religious feelings as they see Monkey as Hanuman and oppose their killing.
Mr Mordhwaj, President of Chokar Panchyat where monkey killing campaign was organized on 16th of July do not favour this campaign as he feels that it was an ‘futile exercise’ and not solution of the problem. He told this correspondent that this campaign had created an unnecessary fear and sense of insecurity among the farmers of the area as after firing take place in forests of one Panchyat the groups of Monkeys were shifting to other nearby villages. He questioned that ‘how by killing 20-30 monkeys out of thousands you may claim that crises were over’. He cautioned that the campaign had gathered sharp reactions from the religious people of the area. He commented that ‘one should not forget that Renuka area had been birth place of Lord Parshuram and place of meditation of great Sages, Sapta Rishis including Godess Renuka Ji, people here were totally religious and do not tolerate killing simians’. Government should lift ban on the export of the monkeys, it would provide permanent solution of the problem without hurting the religious feeling of the residents, Mordhwaj demanded.
Reacting sharply to the campaign Mr. Deep Ram, President of Gram Panchyat Deed Panar has totally opposed killing monkeys as he says it was not solution of the monkey menace faced by the farmers and hurt religious feeling of the resident. He also opposed firing in the forest area as it would created ‘great disturbances’ to the wild animals who may run to some other hide outs from their traditional areas and may lost their lives in the process. He along with Ram Singh a farmer of Kotla Molar Panchyat and Kamal Kumar, a teacher of Badon village and environment lover also favours export of monkeys as permanent solution of the problem.
Mr. Deep Ram Sharma, former President of Bhalona Panchyat in Sangrah development block question ‘Scientific Culling’ process by saying that this process was fit where the animals were in hundreds but to kill tens of thousands of Monkeys this process dose not work. Such ‘Paper Campaign’ were drafted by the people who just work on files and totally ignorant about the ‘ground realities’, he commented.
The campaign under fire was launched in the Sangrah Development Block in the first phase on 14th of this month. The campaign had been planned for the entire state as per sources. According to Mr. Virender Kapoor, State Joint Secretary of Gyan Vigyan Samiti under which KBSS works, during past four days more than 20 monkeys have been killed in the Shamra, Bhutli Manal and Chokar Panchyats of the area by a team of local shooter who were provided with ammunition by the Forest Department. He said that forest department had distributed ammunition of 25 fire shots to each of these Panchyats for killing of monkeys.
He said that decision for launching this campaign in the rest of 15 Panchyats of the Nohra Sub Tehsil would be taken in the next meeting of KBSS convened on 18th of July at Bogdhar village. He said that around six shooters of the area having their licensed guns were provided the ammunition and they were going in the forests and fields of the area along with the one or two forest officials for carrying out the ‘culling’ campaign. He added that on the evening inaugural day of the campaign a demo of monkey killing was held in the presence of Additional Principal Chief Conservator and Wild Life Warden of H.P. Mr. Vinay Tondon near Nohra Dhar and three simian were killed at that time.
Mr. Kapoor however made it clear that Gyan Vigyan Samiti does not support such campaign ‘as it was no solution of the crises faced by the farmers of Himachal Pradesh’. He said that such campaign may cause human casualties and chaos among the residents residing close to forest areas. He demanded that government should open export of Monkeys inspite doing such ‘futile exercises’. He urged the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh that to save the agriculture of the state from the simians, government should give a serious thought to this problem and take bold decision.
Mr. Omprakash, spokesman of KBSS and incharge of this campaign told this correspondent that KBSS was not in favour of Scientific Culling campaign launched by the forest department in collaboration of his association but keeping in view larger interests of the farmers of the area his association had extended support to this campaign, although they were firm on this view that it was not the solution of the problem. He demanded that such campaign be implemented by the forest department itself through trained staff and by taking local people into the confidence. He said that by issuing an notification on the 4th of this month state government had allowed killing of monkeys. He however repeated demands of his organization to lift ban on the export of Monkeys, to launch sterilization campaign and to create a century for monkeys in the state. He said that KBSS had received application from 180 farmers demanding ammunition for killing monkeys. He warned government that ‘it may prove a dangerous trend as if thousands of farmers would enter forests with their fire arms in the state any thing may happen and it may pose a threat to the law and order also’.
HYDERABAD: Buckling under pressure from farmer lobbies, the chief wildlife warden (CWW) has authorized divisional forest officers (DFOs) to kill the wild boar, a commonly found animal in the wild that is accused of destroying crops.
The permission granted last week is perhaps the first of its kind in AP for culling a wild animal. The order issued by CWW also says that the DFOs could assign the job of culling wild boars to hunters and others. Though the CWW has put certain conditions for the killing of the animal, wildlife experts believe that since the authorization is for the entire state and transferable to hunters, the possibility of its misuse becomes huge.
A wild boar which belongs to the Suidae biological family, that also includes domestic pigs, is known for rampaging agricultural and horticultural crops. In some cases, the animal has also attacked and killed humans. The nocturnal animal roves in groups of about 20 and with its pair of sharp extended canines could dig up ground to extract tubers and roots. It mostly eats nuts, berries, carrion, refuse, insects, small reptiles, etc. The districts of Chittoor, Anantapur, Kurnool, Adilabad, Mahbubnagar, East Godavari and West Godavari are affected by wild boar forays. Farmers have been killing wild boars by setting up snares and fencing of fields by live electrical wires.
According to sources, reports of crop damage by wild boars first came from Chittoor, the home district of minister for forest and environment Ramchandra Reddy, about six months ago. It was claimed that the wild boars have eaten away nearly two third of the groundnut seedlings in the district. The Chittoor district DFO was given permission to deal suitably to what was termed as wild boar menace. Soon after, the CWW was told that the problem is not restricted to Chittoor alone and he should therefore include the entire state in his order. Faced with an unprecedented situation, CWW Hitesh Malhotra reportedly sought direction from the government which quickly responded that since the problem is widespread he should give orders to all his field officers to cull the animal.
According to wildlife experts, the order should not have been so sweeping in nature. The government should have asked the department to deal with the wild boar problem on a case-by-case basis. There are certain districts from where no complaint of wild boar attack has been reported. Though the CWW has struck a few notes of caution in his orders such as the presence of a range officer during the culling of the animal by hunters, declaring the dead animal property of the government and burying the body three feet under the ground, experts believe that such guidelines are not practical. The DFO would not be able to spare a range officer (RO) on every wild boar hunting expedition and even if the RO is assigned the job he would not be able to keep a tab on the hunters. The hunters could be killing many animals but claiming that they have hunted only a few of them.
Experts believe that the permission would lead to massacre of wild boars. However, defending the decision a forest department officer said that it has been given only on an experimental basis. The forest department would review the situation next year and decide the future course of action. But it is anybody's guess how many wild boars will be gone for ever till then.