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.

Several years have passed and catapults continue to be sold in most villages and are used for sadistic fun to maime and kill birds and animals all over India. For example, at Panje wetland in Uran (Maharashtra) village boys have been frequently seen aiming their catapults on painted storks. In the first place they should not be sold, and secondly, children need to be educated against the cruelty and killing of innocent lives.

Sold Online

In September 2021 BWC sent e-mails to the CEOs of many online sellers of slingshots/catapults/gulel and air-guns/rifles & bullets pointing out that they were weapons used for hunting and can obviously cause injury and loss of lives to both wild and domesticated animals and birds, even to humans if targeted. They can not be considered toys or even fall under the category of sports. BWC also requested that they not sell books on hunting because they impart knowledge on how and where to find wild life in order to kill them. We drew their attention to the fact that by selling such items it attracts the provisions of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and the seller becomes a part to abetment.

BWC sent a detailed e-mail appeal to Amazon, Snapdeal, Flipkart, ShopClues, Bloon Toys, Desertcart, 24seven India, Ubuy India, Order2India, Cart2India, My Web Store Shopping, Eassymall, etc. requesting them to stop selling these items. We also alerted the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Director of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry followed by the Animal Welfare Board of India.

Desertcart immediately replied: “Will raise that to our IT team to have it removed on the website.” Ubuy’s reply was also greatly appreciated: “We already informed the concerned team to remove the products which are mentioned in the letter with immediate effect and will ensure that no seller will be allowed to sell such products on our website in the future.”

The biggest offender Amazon responded that as per their policy they did not allow the sale and listing of such products, but in order to stop it asked BWC to send URLs of those products that were objectionable! BWC sent them 17 pages full of URLs. The reply received from the Counsel for Amazon Seller Services Pvt Ltd states among several other things that “Our Client has, in accordance with its policy and obligations under law, reviewed the 142 URLs that you have shared vide Your Email. You are hereby informed that on the basis of this review, our Client has taken down a total of 21 product listings, out of the 142 identified and provided by you, which met the bar of restriction as per our Client’s policy.”

Although not pertaining to catapults, BWC was pleased when in December 2021 the Prime Minister lauded in Mann Ki Baat that Arunachal Pradesh was home to more than 500 species of birds and to protect them a campaign to surrender air guns was underway with more than 1,600 guns having been surrendered. The Forest Department had taken this initiative after they realized the growing grave threat to wild birds due to such weapons being easily accessible online.

A year later Assam, Nagaland and Manipur officials confiscated catapults & nets and banned guns & air guns to safeguard migratory Amur falcons. In order to avoid the harsh cold winter of Russia and China, these birds migrate via India across the Arabian Sea to reach Africa where it is warm. Earlier to 2022, during their peak migration stopovers in India as many as 12,000 falcons were said to have been killed daily. But the trapping and killing has gradually lessened because villagers have been educated and made aware of the need to protect the birds. Moreover, since viewing the birds attract tourists it brings in an income for them. For example, Pangti in Nagaland, has become famous as the “falcon capital of the world”!

In June 2022 Actor Sayaji Shinde was shocked to find a group of boys atop the Ghatkopar-Mankhurd flyover hitting low flying birds with catapults and go away with the heron they injured. Luckily he complained to the Mumbai Police and it is hoped no one will be allowed to even stand on the bridge leave alone try to kill birds from there.

Meanwhile, please do your bit to stop and create an awareness of the unimaginably cruel outcome of playing with catapults.

Page last updated on 04/11/22