Himachal high court stays monkey culling



Shimla (Jan 6): The Himachal Pradesh High Court today put on hold the state government’s decision to issue permits to farmers to shoot monkeys that have been destroying their crops and fruits.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice VK Ahuja directed the state government 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 have directed the government to look for other options to protect the crops of the farmers, like use of crackers to shoo away the simians, use of rubber bullets and air-guns and air-pistols, sterilisation, etc. “Such options have not been experimented so far,” they said.

A large number of farmers have procured permits from the state wildlife authority to kill monkeys causing them losses, a move that has angered wildlife activists. Himachal Pradesh chapter of People for Animals (PFA), a NGO, and the Animal Welfare Board of India, a central agency, have knocked at the doors of the high court demanding stopping of 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 AK Gulati informed the court that 15 monkeys have been killed in the state by six out of the total 259 permits issued to the farmers from Nov 1, 2010 to December 5. The permits have validity ranging from two to four weeks. He said permission to kill monkeys had only been given in the fields and there would be selective killing and no mass culling.

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