Court restrains monkey killing in Himachal

Thursday, January 6, 2011

SHIMLA - The Himachal Pradesh High Court Thursday put on hold the state government’s decision to allow farmers to shoot monkeys that have been destroying their crops and fruits.

Coming down heavily on the state government, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice V.K. Ahuja directed authorities to stop issuing monkey killing permits.

“The state should have to protect all the beings… by giving 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.

The judges directed the government to look for other options to protect crops like use of crackers to scare away the simians, use of rubber bullets and air-guns and sterilisation.

“Such options have not been experimented so far,” the bench said.

The court has fixed March 5 as the next date of hearing.

A large number of farmers have procured permits from the state wildlife authority to kill the monkeys which have been damaging their crops, a move that has angered wildlife activists.

Himachal Pradesh chapter of non-governmental organisation People for Animals (PFA) and central agency Animal Welfare Board of India have knocked the doors of the high court against the animal killings.

The state government has asserted in the court that the permits to shoot monkeys have been given within the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which allows grant of such permits to kill wild animals causing damage to agriculture and humans.

Chief Wildlife Warden A.K. Gulati informed the court that 15 monkeys have been killed in the state under six out of the total 259 permits issued from Nov 1 to Dec 5, 2010. The permits have validity ranging from two to four weeks.

He added that there would be selective killing and no mass culling of the monkeys.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal informed the state assembly Thursday that the monkey menace had reached alarming proportions and that the government had authorised the chief wildlife warden to allow their hunting along with wild boars and blue bulls.

“To check their rising numbers, the government has sterilised 23,428 monkeys so far. The sterilised monkeys were later released in their natural habitats,” he said.

The wildlife wing estimates that monkeys, numbering over 300,000, mainly target cereal and fruit crops, causing extensive damage mainly in Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Una, Mandi and Kangra districts.

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