- The Union environment ministry has declared monkeys (Rhesus Macaque) as ‘vermin’ in Himachal Pradesh, allowing local authorities to cull this animal in certain identified non-forest areas in Shimla for one year.
- The move has attracted the anger of animal rights activists who are opposing it.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species.
- The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants; and for matters connected there with or ancillary or incidental thereto.
- Reforms done under the Act:
- Increase in designated national parks and wildlife sancturies
- The act established schedules of protected plant and animal species
- Hunting or harvesting these species was largely outlawed
Permissions for hunting wildlife:
- The Wildlife Act empowers every State’s Chief Wildlife Warden to authorise hunters to cull animals in a region where they are a proven nuisance.
- Wildlife laws also consider hunted wildlife as ‘government property’ and impose restrictions on how these carcasses must be disposed.
- Under this act, an all India list of protected species is published.
- It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
- Schedule I and part II of Schedule II members are the best protected, with severe punishments meted out to those who hunt them.
- Schedule III and IV members are also protected, , but the penalties are much lower.
- Schedule V members fall in the vermin category, which may be hunted. It includes crows , fruit bat, mice and rats.
- Schedule VI members includes specified endemic plants that are prohibited from cultivation and planting.
- Schedule II, III and IV species can be hunted under specific conditions. It includes Wild boars, nilgai and rhesus monkeys
Declaration as Vermin
- Declaration of an animal species as ‘vermin’ means that those who kill these animals here will, for a year after these notifications come into effect, not be subject to the jail terms and fines that hunting these animals typically invite.
- The H.P state government reported harm to life and property including large-scale destruction of agriculture due to overpopulation of monkeys outside forests.
- As a result, the Union environment ministry has declared monkeys (Rhesus Macaque) as ‘vermin’ in Himachal Pradesh.
- Though Rhesus Macaque monkeys are protected species under Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the law allows for it to be hunted by declaring it ‘vermin’ for a specific period if it poses a danger to human life or property.
- This has attracted ire of activists.
- Since 2015, the Union Environment Ministry has acceded to requests from Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Bihar to declare wild boar, rhesus macaque, and nilgai as vermin within specified territories of these States, and outside forests and protected areas.
- The government had also declared wild pig as ‘vermin’ in Uttarakhand in 2018, allowing authorities to carry out extermination of wild pigs on a large scale in certain identified areas (tehsils) of 13 districts in the state for one year without attracting penal provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.