Website by AQEEL FAROOQI  

 


 

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OTHER ARTICLES

Problems of identification of camera-trapped tigers
Indian Wildlife - challenges in the new millennium
The greying of India
On the road to extinction
A Tribute to Rumbha - the elephant  
State development project threatens state bird - Sarus
Shahtoosh ban gains momentum worldwide
The road to disaster
Killing nilgais in the name of crop protection
Warring NGO's may spell doom for the tiger
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Cuckoos that fly out of crows' nests
Corbett park woes continue to mount
A question on post mortem examinations in the wild
Is it time to 'cry wolf' again?
Lifting of US sanctions may boost wildlife conservation
Migratory waterfowl may be hit by war in Afghanistan
UP wetlands to provide improved habitat to waterfowl
Anthrax as a potent wildlife killer
Man-elephant conflict takes heavy toll
Demoiselle cranes fly to safety in India
How long lasting are conservation victories
Fake tiger skins : a knotty disguise
Who cares for the wild here anyway?
A tribute to Charger - the long living tiger
Draining of wetlands threatening wildlife
Wildlife management needs rapid response units
Dudhwa loses another tiger
Indian Wildlife Board meets after five years
 

 WILDLIFE WINDOW | Aqeel Farooqi

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | Aug 8, 2001

 

KILLING NILGAIS IN THE NAME OF CROP PROTECTION

When the Government of Maharashtra recently took the decision of allowing the killing of nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) on the grounds of crop protection, it was merely following what Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had already done earlier. Protests from conservationists who were present during the meeting of the Maharashtra state Wildlife Advisory Board were strong, but in the end the interests of man over animal were considered paramount, and the order was passed.

In Uttar Pradesh, the primary man-animal conflict that is of any noticeable dimension is the damage to agricultural fields by herds of crop-raiding nilgai. This is one wild species that has been sustaining its population all over the state due to its relatively higher fecundity, as well as its propensity to survive in agricultural areas, even though its natural habitat has been consistently whittled down to negligible proportions. One important factor that contributed to the nilgai’s wide spread survival in the state was the religious reverence in which it used to be held by a large section of the populace. This was the reason why it enjoyed some sort of immunity from large-scale decimation, even though its consistent depredations against farmers made them look upon it as a pest. It did however, prompt them and their elected representatives to keep up a continuous clamour asking the state government to intervene and provide them saccour. In the absence of any other viable measures of crop protection which could be resorted to by farmers, the government had to give in to the demand to allow these raiding animals to be officially killed by hunters.

But from a purely official standpoint, government may receive a very few applications requesting for permission to eliminate raiding nilgais, hence the total number of such animals killed officially would be quite low. This apparently stems from the long-drawn procedure involved in obtaining a permit for elimination, with its concomitant riders like issue of permit only to a rifle license holder, the specific location where the shot can be taken, and the subsequent handing over of the carcass to the department, since according to Section 11 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, any animal killed in the name of self defense or crop protection is government property. Moreover, no hunter worth his salt and spices would like to see his booty burning on a pyre prepared by the Forest department, rather than be cooked on a fire of his own making.

But this is not to say that this lack of official implementation of the government’s proposed measures to provide relief to farmers, is going in favour of the nilgai. There are enough renegade farmer-hunters who are tackling this issue of crop-protection on their own terms and agenda. Their .315's and 12 bores have always been lending loud support to this huge public outcry against the depredations of the nilgai. Their tractors and trolleys are used to bring in the crop during the day, while at night they bring home the crop-raiders. The more modest ones are silently pegging away with their wire-snares, sulphas tablets concealed in guavas, and deadly electrocution lines tapped off from high-tension cables. The nilgais they bring down will never be counted in any official record

The graphic educational campaign carried out in the state highlighting the reasons why a nilgai was not a 'cow', and officially renaming it as ‘vanroz’, has the dubious distinction of being a huge success in converting some peoples’ reverence into abhorrence, and ultimately adding to the numbers of the bloodthirsty lot. The poor wild boar, another wild species considered as a crop pest, was already on the 'hate-list' of some, and being dealt with accordingly.

And so, there is a real fear in the minds of conservationists that it may just be a matter of time when the ill effects of unregulated and unofficial implementation of a studied government policy will take a heavy toll on their populations, making these two species jump back and forth within the limited Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.