Culling is a term used to reduce the population by selective slaughter so as to maintain the harmony and the population and also the nature, which is slowly but steadily exhausting with time. In the wild, it is the process of weeding out the weak — through starvation, disease and predation. It is nature’s way of controlling population and maintaining the robustness of a stock. However, with time, human intervention became necessary for the management of wildlife populations through controlled hunting, which is now referred to as culling.
Is it the over-population of the herbivore that has led to an impeding competition between the human and animals over resources? Is it necessary and is it our call to restrict or reduce such population through controlled culling?
Of late, two cabinet ministers- Maneka Gandhi who holds the portfolio of women and child development, and a known animal rights activist, and environment minister Prakash Javadekar are at war over the latter’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s decision to allow for culling of wild animals. While Maneka Gandhi is extensively fighting over the ethical grounds against the issue of culling, the environment minister is justifying the act on the loss of forestland to mines, industry, agriculture, roads, railways, canals etc., which indeed is a big trigger for the already-pursuing man-animal conflict.
Gandhi’s outburst came after the Rhesus Macaque joined the wild boar in Uttarakhand and Nilgai in Bihar on a list of animals that the environment ministry has allowed to be culled. Javadekar’s ministry issued a notification on 31 May, declaring Rhesus Macaque monkeys “vermin” across most of Himachal Pradesh for one year. The notification allows the state government to take steps for the large-scale culling of monkeys without attracting penal provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Monkeys are a protected species under Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. But if any wild animal poses danger to human life or property (including standing crops), or is disabled or diseased beyond recovery, the law allows for its killing. If they can’t be controlled, they can’t live either.
After having snatched their homeland (forests), for the selfish desire of commercialisation and also to sustain our ever-increasing population, isn’t it ironic that their death is due to the similar reason of them being in abundance and the damage they cause to our livelihoods?
Well, karma grips us all onto its hold; what goes around always comes around.
If selective killing of animal is allowed, then why shouldn’t the government pursue selective killing of our species? People disrupting the society, or are diseased and disabled beyond recovery, or pose an immediate threat to the animals should be killed too. But being fair is something we haven’t learned in our society, and neither have we learned the art of sharing the resources in a perfectly honourable manner.
However, nature runs its own agenda of killing, and come what may, there will come a time when nature will treat us in a manner we have. It would exploit us, render us helpless and would take away our dear ones, because then will be the time when nature will unleash its fury, and no technology or planning will be able to save us from the doomsday.
This is a buoyant debate, wherein siding with humans invokes the definition of ethical treatment, while siding with animals invokes the question of sustainability of our livelihoods.