Beauty Without Cruelty has drawn the attention of the Government of India to the fact that although catapults could technically fall under the definition of weapon under The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, the actual word is missing.
The definition of weapon under the Act reads: 2 (35) "weapon" includes ammunition, bows and arrows, explosives, firearms, hooks, knives, nets, poison, snares and traps, and any instrument or apparatus capable of anaesthetising, decoying, destroying, injuring or killing an animal.
In 2014 the New Delhi Municipal Council hired 40 men – langur-wallahs capable of mimicking the aggressive sounds made by langurs but without langurs accompanying them (it is illegal to use wildlife) to drive away the Rhesus monkeys that are perceived to be a nuisance. Ironically, the men have no qualms in illegally aiming gulail/slingshots/catapults on the monkeys, nor does the NDMC seem to mind.
Catapults are increasingly being sold in all cities, towns and villages of India. Earlier they used to comprise of handmade Y-shaped pieces of wood to which rubber strips having a patch of leather to hold a stone were attached. Today, one finds easily available, cheap plastic catapults which are sold in hundreds, even by paan vendors. Their use with steel ball-bearings and marbles in place of stones makes them positively lethal.
Few people realise the extent of harm that can be inflicted by a kid who has a catapult. He randomly aims at any and every creature that he sees… killing, maiming, injuring… not only birds like sparrows, pigeons, doves, parrots, peacocks, owls, bats, etc. but other wild life such as squirrels. And if by chance a human is hit, it also results in severe injury.
More and more teenaged boys in both rural and urban areas have been hunting birds and small animals with catapults as is evident from frequent reports received from all over the country. BWC feels this could very well be the prime reason for the population of different specie of birds decreasing.
It is a question of manufacture and sale: if catapults are not sold, thousands of birds and small animals will not be illegally hunted and killed for ‘fun’ as is unfortunately happening.
In view of the above, BWC has requested that the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests consider issuing an immediate Notification banning the use of catapults. By placing this restriction on the manufacture, import, sale, purchase, use and possession of catapults, an unimaginably high number of birds’ lives will be saved.
Meanwhile, please do your bit to stop and create an awareness of the unimaginably cruel outcome of playing with catapults.