Communist Party of India (Marxists) has held the state forest department responsible for not implementing the monkey cull for the overgrown simian population in the state capital, which even the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), a month ago, had declared and notified as a vermin.
Dr. Kuldip Tanwar, secretariat member of CPM and a former Indian Forest Officer who took voluntary retirement said, “the forest department till date has done nothing even though monkeys have been notified as a vermin animal for Shimla city more than a month ago. At this pace we expect nothing to happen.
He added that the issue of declaring the wild boar and the blue bull as vermin was also pending before the department.
Dr Tanwar said that in the absence of any initiative from the forest department, about 2301 gram panchayats were being adversely affected and much farm lands and produce was being wasted.
He said that the MoEF had declared monkeys as a vermin species in support of the protests lodged by ‘Kheti Bachao Samiti’, an outfit that was spearheaded by Himachal Kisan Sabha.
Bon vivant, writer extraordinaire.
I do not expect the Forest Department or the Chief Wildlife Warden to respond to this post and so at the risk of ‘offending’ my erstwhile colleagues, do let me explain the problems and some issues. First, the culling of monkeys is not a job for the Forest Department because there is no body they have who can handle even a catapult properly, leave alone a rifle that can bring down a simian. Are single, identified and Alpha male types to be culled or as many as possible in a troupe including infants? There are no easy answers to these questions. Secondly, a culling operation will have to be planned keeping in view the forested pockets that monkeys use for night rest or residence; a team of good sharp shooters with telescopic rifles and workers armed with ‘lathis’ to ward of group attacks by the simians once firing actually starts. Where to position the sharp shooters to get the fleeing monkeys and so forth? What protocol to follow after the culling as to the disposal of dead monkeys? The whole area will have to be cordoned off effectively to avoid any injuries to humans. Effective crowd management is essential because hundreds of people WILL gather around to watch the tamasha. I am afraid there are no clear, workable answers to these and connected questions. It will need co-ordination of several departments including the MC of Shimla, and this doesn’t happen easily.
About wild boars and nilgai, the position is (unless they have changed it) that any affected person can obtain a permit to shoot up to 10 wild boars from the Range Officer concerned. This provision under the WLP Act, 1972 was made way back in 2007-08. But apparently, despite the hue and cry, very few, if any, persons have come forward to avail of these permits. There are similar provisions concerning the shooting of Nilgais. Here again, the problem is that without proper equipment i.e. a telescopic rifle and good marksmanship, it is very difficult to kill a wild boar. There is reluctance to shoot Nilgai because of the word “gai” appended to it. And anyway, the onus to prove that it is not beef is now on the owner. No?
The only department to implement this is the Forest department. It is for the the department to work out modalities and plan action. The citizen require relief and that’s all. If the department is incapable to implement, they should sit at home and let new dynamic person be in the job to make the citizens have peace. Such inaction and delay proves the worthlessness of the present people holding the post which they can’t justify.
I wonder what happened to the govt’s monkey sterilisation programme which was started in 2008 ? If I recollect there were four monkey sterilisation centers at Tutikandi, Sastar, Gopalpur and Una and the Forest deptt. was sterilising about 500 monkeys every month. By now about 45000 monkeys should have been sterilised out ofa total estimated population of roughly 300,000- that should have made a significant dent in their numbers by now. Culling is a messy solution( if it proves to be a solution at all), and beyond the capacity of the department, as Nodnat has pointed out. Its also cruel: monkeys are extremely social animals, like us, and taking out some members of a troupe will destroy their family structures. We need to be more compassionate to other living things and notlook at them through the prism of our own convenience. After all, they are not the problem- we are: we first destroy their habitats in the country side, we entice them with junk food in tourist urban areas, we feed them in our temples, and then we want to cull them. At this rate very soon all wild life will be declared vermin and culled, and then perhaps we can move on to the next stage-start culling each other!