Guest post by ARJUN JOSHI
The issue with killing animals highlights an anomaly of sorts. These animals survive on the borders of our moral concepts; the consequence is that we sometimes find ourselves according them a divine moral status, while at other times denying them even basic moral status. Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, recently sanctioned the mass-killing of wild boar in Uttarakhand, nilgai in Bihar and rhesus monkey in Himachal Pradesh. More animals such as peacocks (Goa) and wild elephants (West Bengal) have been declared to be vermin by the state governments, paving the way for their culling too.
Javadekar’s defence is that his orders are premised on complaints his Ministry has received from multiple State governments claiming that the animals are damaging farm-lands.
Construing the actions of an individual, irrespective of their arbitrariness, risks confusing the symptom for the disease. Today, Mr. Javadekar’s actions are based on an ill-informed interpretation of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The Act stipulates the protection of all wild species, barring vermin. By definition, vermin include common crows, fruit bats, mice and rats. A notable exception is made when there is a direct threat to human life by wild animals, and it requires immediate intervention. Apart from these, arguably, justified reasons, the Ministry is disallowed from ordering culling of any other animal. Unfortunately, Mr. Javadekar has bypassed the existing framework, by opting to declare an entire species as vermin – the convenient route out of planned and strategized animal management.