As per Section 62 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Indian States can send a list of wild animals to the Centre with a request to declare them vermin and enable their killing. The Central Government has the power to, by notification, declare any wild animal vermin, other than those specified in Schedule I and part 11 of Schedule H of the law, for any area for a given period of time. Till the notification is in force, these animals will be deprived of any kind of protection whatsoever under that law. Vermin are wild animals which are harmful to crops or people.
A notification was issued on March 14, 2016 by the Central government, declaring monkeys vermin in Shimla for a period of six months and vide another notification in May this year, to treat monkeys as vermin for a period of one year in 38 tehsils of the State.The Himachal Pradesh government has sterilised one lakh monkeys till date out of the two lakhs plus reported monkeys in the State. The government has stated that these monkeys have lead to an economic loss which runs in hundreds of crores. The Himachal government has the power to cull monkeys after they were declared vermin.The H.P government announced an amount of Rs.300 per monkey to anybody who kills them outside the forest area.
Dhyan Foundation (DF), an NGO which actively works in the areas of animal welfare, has announced a reward of Rs.300 for every monkey saved in Himachal Pradesh. The announcement comes in the wake of recent decision of the government to reward those who kill monkeys in the state of Himachal Pradesh. “To claim the reward, just show us a video of saving the animal, that is enough. We will award a cheque if the local journalist community approves it” explains Ruchi Kale, a volunteer at DF.
DF has been feeding monkeys daily at the Jhaku Temple, Shimla and urging the authorities to revoke the vermin status of monkeys, and instead work towards their rehabilitation for which the Foundation is willing to extend all possible help. Yogi Ashwini, the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation says ”We are breaking no law; we are implementing the law of humanity and will continue to do so. We are feeding them at government designated points. There are funds which are given to agencies for feeding monkeys but these are siphoned off and the land mafia is usurping the forests”.
It is strange that we have laws like these which arbitrarily give the right to the Government to declare any animal vermin and allow its culling. First, we take away their homes and remove forests all in the name of development and then claim their place as ours. We have uprooted them from their natural habitat and now want them not to be in places which we now call ours but which originally belonged to them. Animals depend on nature for their survival and if we make their food sources disappear, they are surely going to invade fields in search of food. Humans interfere in the natural food chain of animals and alter the balance they create in nature. The state of Telengana has made a great move in proposing to plant trees across the state and increasing the forest cover from around the current 25% to 33% in an effort to provide habitation to monkeys and restrict them to the forests. A monkey rescue and rehabilitation centre will also be set up in Adilabad district.
We need to understand the reasons behind the monkey menace which have been largely created by us humans. Nature has its own ways of creating ecological balance. It sure does not need us to monkey around with it.