Himachal High Court Stays Monkey Cull

Shimla: The Himachal High Court on Thursday stayed the government’s decision of issuing permits to farmers for shooting monkeys that have been destroying crops.

Division bench with Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice VK Sharma directed the forest official to stop issuing of permits for killing monkey “by issuing permission to kill the problematic monkeys, the state has not understood and applied its mind to understand the basic intent of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” the bench observed.

Before fixing March 5 as the next date for hearing the petition filed by People for Animals (PFA), the court asked the government to look for other options for scaring away the simians, using rubber bullets, air guns and sterilization. “Such options have not been experimented so far,” the bench said.

Chief Wildlife Warden AK Gulati had informed the court that 259 permits had been issued to farmers between November 1, 2010 and December 5, 2010, with a two to four weeks validity for killing monkeys.

Only 15 monkeys were killed by farmers in their fields by six of the permit holders and there was no mass culling, the wildlife warden had let the court know.

The state government on its part had put before the court that the issuing of permits to shoot monkeys have been given within the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which allows killing of wild animals if they are causing damage to agriculture.

Evoking the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Himachal chapter of People for Animals and Animal Welfare Board of India had moved the High Court after the wildlife warden had issued permits for selective killing of simians, wild boars and neelgai (antelopes).

Relenting to pressure from farmers organizations led by Kehti Bacchao Sangarsh Samiti, the government had allowed issuing of permits to kill outgrown populations of monkeys after a sterilization program and establishing primate parks had failed to contain the man-animal conflict in the state.

Though the wild life estimates the monkey population to be over 300,000, but the sterilization program in a three year period has been able to neutralize only, 23,428 monkeys so far.

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