Paving the way for large scale culling of Rhesus Macaque monkeys across most of Himachal Pradesh, the union environment ministry has declared them ‘vermin’ for one year.
The 31 May notification by the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change allows the state government to take steps for the large-scale culling of monkeys without attracting penal provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
“The state of Himachal Pradesh has reported damage to life and property including large scale destruction of agriculture by Rhesus Macaque monkeys in areas outside forests. The Central Government has considered it necessary to mitigate the damage to human life, crops and other properties of the State for ensuring conservation of wildlife in forests,” said the ministry notification. Mint has seen a copy of the notification.
“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 62 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, the Central Government, hereby declares Rhesus Macaque to be vermin for a period of one year,” the notification added.
Monkeys are a protected species under Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. But if any wild animal poses danger to human life or property (including standing crops on any land), or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, the law allows for its killing.
Using these provisions, any animal listed in Schedule I-IV can be put in Schedule V for a specific period, declaring it as vermin, can be killed. Schedule V includes animals like the common crow, fruit bats, mice and rats.
Of the 12 districts of Himachal Pradesh, the notification declares them vermin in 10– Chamba, Kangra, Una, Bilaspur, Shimla, Sirmour, Kullu, Hamirpur, Solan and Mandi.
The notification by the Prakash Javadekar-led environment ministry comes after repeated requests from the Himachal Pradesh authorities which cited rising cases of monkeys destroying property, including crops, and biting people.
Earlier, in March 2016, the environment ministry haddeclared monkeys vermin only in Shimla.
This is the third animal that has been declared vermin by the environment ministry. Mint reported in February that the ministry has categorised wild boars vermin in Uttarakhand for a year. In December, nilgai and wild boars were declared vermin in Bihar for a year.
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