Too few or too many… humans have been responsible not only for their own (growing) numbers, but those of other species. Expensive efforts to control populations so that they attain man-desired levels are, more often than not, on-going unsuccessful projects.

Wild Life

Every one likes to jump onto the wild life publicity wagon! Extinction is the scare, and protection the bottom line. If no one sees and reports a particular creature in the wild for 50 years, the specie is declared extinct; and the cheetah is the most well known of the 23 species believed to be extinct in India. That is the reason why cheetahs were reintroduced into India’s Kuno National Park in 2022. They were brought from Namibia with great fan-fare, but sadly hundreds of live cheetal were kept ready for them to hunt – that cheetal are wild life too seems to matter little. The cheetah’s favourite prey is spotted deer (cheetal), sambar deer, wild boar, peafowl, rabbits and nilgai. In other words all these species will be kept there for the cheetahs to hunt.

Those who respect life do not distinguish between a wild cat like a tiger, and a domestic pussy cat. For them, each and every individual life is scared, whether or not the specie is in abundance. For example, every time a tiger is electrocuted or poached it makes headlines along with its name, age, that it was radio collared and so on.

Many wild life populations have decreased and continue to fall in numbers due to hunting, capture, encroachment of habitat, pollution, flooding as a result of connecting rivers or building dams, mining and blasting, construction of highways and railway lines, tourism in wildlife habitats, and so on and on.  The root cause for every reason is positively humans. For example, a report released by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change covering 2014 to 2022 stated about the Asian elephant that has been listed as endangered by the IUCN since 1986, that in the last 5 years 494 were killed due to accidents, electrocution, poaching and poisoning; and in 2022 it was reported that a tiger was seen searching for a path as the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) Nagpur-Umred highway had cut through its corridor in the Umred-Karhandia-Paoni Wildlife Sanctuary. January 2023 saw the death of 13 black bucks and 2 grievously injured on Pune-Solapur highway because a wildlife crossing or overpass had not been built – 15 of them fell from a height of 35-feet onto the road. Then in 2024, it was reported that since most migratory routes of black bucks had been either diverted or disrupted due to highway construction, particularly along their grazing grassland areas of Solapur, road-kills had been increasing on highways. Such hit-and-run accidents are fairly common and black-bucks are not the only animal victims who get run over while crossing highways, e.g. a vehicle (which could not be traced so the driver escaped prosecution) ran over a leopard at Kandali village near Junnar on the Pune Nashik highway in September 2023.

In December 2023 the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in an interim order asked the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to pay Rs 8.96 crore to the Social Forestation Department of Maharashtra for the re-plantation of around 23,730 trees (which had been cut to construct the road) on both sides of the Pune-Nashik-Dule NH 60. Along with this an order to construct underpasses at 4 points: Malwadi, Khaandarmaiwadi, Doisane and Velhale, for which guidelines and directions should be taken from the Wildlife Institute, where regularly wildlife movements happened was also passed.

Unsurprisingly data from the Indian Railways revealed that between April 2019 and January 2023 more than 1 lakh cattle had been run over by trains – note: this does not cover wild life or any other animals. It is bad that whenever trains hit animals, only the delay or damage to the train or if travellers are hurt, is reported. Animals injured or killed are of no consequence whatsoever to the authorities or the media.

BWC was seriously wondering how come over a lakh of cattle had been run over by trains when a news item appeared in February 2023 that stated 11 cows had been killed (and several others sustained grievous injuries) as farmers had pushed them onto railway tracks in Sambhal district of UP because they had been destroying crops in their farms.

A global study of 57 species of mammals undertaken by 114 researchers, published in the journal Science has found that wildlife move far less in landscapes that have been altered by humans and that humans are making animals lose their ability to roam freely. Protection is mainly on paper alongside armchair politics, and ironically poaching helps substantially raise more money for “protection” via costly, ineffective schemes.

In January 2024 BWC wrote to the DRM Bhavnagar Division, The Gujarat State Forest Minister and Western Railway HQs drawing their attention to a passenger train recently hitting yet another lioness in Gujarat’s Amreli, the third such incident and death in the month; and that out of the 7 lions that had been hit in the last 6 months, 5 had been killed. BWC asked that a speed limit for trains passing through forest areas be set and also to increase the height of the fencing without even a small gap left open for an animal to pass through. We also said that it would be advisable to stop all trains (at least goods trains to begin with) from running through forest areas between 6 pm and 6 am. It was therefore good to know in April 2024 the Gujarat High Court on their suo moto PIL had come down heavily on both the Railways and Forest authorities as a result of which train speeds had been restricted to less than 40 kmph on the Pipavav Surendranagar rail line during night time to minimise collisions with lions in Amreli District. Moreover, in the Gir (West) Wildlife Division in Junagadh and Gir Somnath Districts a maximum speed of 20 kmph would be observed on the Visavadar-Talala section, plus no trains allowed to operate at night.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change has allocated Rs 10 crore for a 10-year research project to identify an appropriate drug, develop an immunocontraceptive for wild animals such as elephants, nilgai, wild pigs and rhesus monkeys and establish how to administer it – hopefully a single shot vaccine. The Wildlife Institute of India (Dehradun) will be the nodal agency.

Zoos and aquariums that house wild creatures in captivity claim to be institutions of conservation, education and research, but are actually degrading, insulting and cruel jails for the so-called entertainment of children who grow up erroneously believing it is quite right to keep wild life captive. No more than 9% of India’s conservation breeding programmes have released animals/birds into the wild. Over and above which the projects can not be termed successful unless the creatures survive, breed and raise offspring in the wild.

While efforts for conservation, sustainable management and use of wild life continue world-wide, there can be no great success in increasing numbers or giving protection without basic reverence for life. For example, the only two female white rhinos remaining on earth were in 2019 anaesthetised for two hours and their eggs extracted. At an Italian biotech lab these eggs were fertilised with frozen sperm from males and developed into embryos but are kept stored in liquid nitrogen to be transferred into a surrogate mother some time in the future. The shameful fact remains that humans have massacred the world’s rhinos – in the mid-19th century there were more than one million rhinos in Africa.

This brings us to wild life populations that man feels are in excess and the resultant culling (read killing) – again at human hands. Human greed is truly limitless and endless. However, animal-human conflicts involving monkeys in many cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, there is a religious taboo on harming them. Relocation does not work – not for monkeys, not for leopards, or even dogs – because some how two take the place of the one that was removed!

Would there not be an unprecedented uproar if the world decides to cull or eliminate say 350,000 people per day in order to stabilise humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature?

In 2024 the Wildlife Institute of India stated “indiscriminate disposal of food waste, habitat destruction and the absence of predators have all contributed to the increase in the population (of some wild life species) and conflict”. They have therefore suggested population control of 4 species that were conflict with humans. Sterilisation was a long term alternative solution to culling for which the animals were otherwise being tagged as vermin and killed. The suggestion was based on a study that addressed rising negative interactions between humans and animals. The 4 species most in conflict were: Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulaa), Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), Wild pig (Sus scrofa) and Elephant (Elephas maximus). The irony of the suggestion was that a specie like the Asiatic elephant listed as “endangered” on IUCN Red List and with a declining population could very well be sterilised!


It is but obvious why Rhesus macaques are increasingly seen in cities – humans are responsible for having shrunk their habitat and they have no where to go – and therefore considered a nuisance.

Humans feel that since monkeys are a menace their numbers should decrease. To achieve this without culling, government and wild life organisations have been taking steps such as the sterilisation programme of Himachal Pradesh. By November 2013 they claimed to have sterilised (vasectomy and tubectomy operations) nearly 70,000 monkeys in their four state-of-the-art sterilisation centres.

However, in July 2019 the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change issued a notification (on request from the Himachal Pradesh) declaring monkeys as vermin and allowing local authorities to cull them in 91 tehsils till February 2020 and in Shimla till July 2020. In 2004 the monkey population in Shimla was 3,27,512 but had fallen to 2,07,614 in 2015. Despite this significant fall in numbers the state government felt that sterilisation was insufficient because monkeys were still a menace.

In December 2019 Himachal Pradesh’s Forest Minister declared that till then 1.57 lakh monkeys had been sterilised and that there were about 8 monkey sterilisation centres spread across Himachal Pradesh where trappers brought monkeys for sterilisation using laser vasectomies in males an endoscopic thermocauteric tubectomies in females. While the number of monkeys in the state had reduced from 3.2 million in 2004 to 2.1 million in 2015 incidences of violence remained more or less the same.

Therefore in June 2020 for the fourth consecutive year Himachal Pradesh applied for and received approval from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change to declare rhesus macaque monkeys as vermin.

Since the Agra District Administration also tried capturing and operating the monkeys but the number of attacks did not go down, the Government of India was considering alternate means of population control – Immunocontraception, a technique which involves the administration of a vaccine that creates a temporary immune response against a protein or hormone crucial to reproduction however this has a number of drawbacks even if given orally as a pill.

Uttarakhand also launched a similar, but pilot surgical sterilisaation project. And, in 2014 Karantaka sent officials to Himachal Pradesh to learn about the programme. Soon after of the President of India’s visit to the Vrindavan temple when he had been advised not to wear his spectacles because monkeys were liable to snatch them, the demand to allow their 2 lakh and fast growing population in Brajbhoomi (Mathura and Vrindavan) to be sterilised was put forward in January 2015. Himachal Pradesh’s initial proposals to declare monkeys vermin were rejected till 2015, but in August 2016 monkeys were declared vermin in 38 tehsils of the state following which the state government announced an incentive of Rs300/- for killing a monkey. Since religious sentiments prevented people from killing them, in April 2017 the state government decided to constitute a special eco-taskforce in scientific culling of monkeys in the 53 tehsils and Shimla (town) where they had by then been declared vermin. In addition, a Rescue Centre for Life Care with a capacity of housing 1,000 rogue and sterilised monkeys would be opened at Shimla. Then in 2019, to protect tourists from monkey attacks (food is the attraction) at the Taj Mahal, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel standing guard at the monument were given catapults/gulels to tackle the menace.

The Central Zoo Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Primate Centre of California (USA) to find ways to address the problem. Monkeys that can be captured are sterilised whereas oral contraceptive mixed in food is given to roaming groups.

Nevertheless, the women of Almora have major complaints regarding monkeys with regard to their safety and livelihoods. They are certain that drugged monkeys from other places are being dumped at night in adjoining forest areas because such relocated monkeys are always aggressive and violent, and in their minds not Hanuman but Bali. They therefore felt that Uttarakhand should like Himachal Pradesh declare monkeys as vermin so that they can be killed.

However in 2020 when about 3,30,000 people returned to Uttarakhand due to the nationwide lockdown, 45% decided to stay back to grow tea (there was a steady decline towards the beginning of the 20th century) which did not attract monkeys and wild boars.

In the South the Rhesus macaque and Bonnet macaque are considered a nuisance also because they eat and damage fruits, vegetables, tubers, wheat, corn and paddy crops.

Karnataka and Haryana have set up telephone helplines to assist residents.

Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi have captured monkeys and released them in forest areas.

Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have announced parks for them, whereas, Punjab (where scare tactics are used), Telangana, Kerala and also Karnataka are planning rehabilitation of monkeys. Also, Telangana, Kerala and Karnataka are considering sterilisation.

Kerala decided to grow crops that are not damaged by monkeys. Also Kerala, Odisha and Telangana are growing fruit bearing trees to attract them.

After the amended Wild Life Protection Act 2022 came into force on 1 April 2023, Forest Departments refused to do anything about the Rhesus macaque since it was no long a scheduled animal resulting in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi being solely responsible for them. Furthermore, when 74 of them – 50 were electrocuted and 20 were poisoned – in Mugadapa village of Siddipet (Telangana) in October 2023 the Police had to take action under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act only.

These were the same monkeys that India banned the export of in 1977. Although many other organisations had objected citing intense cruelty the monkeys were subjected to foreign research laboratories, eventually it was only because of BWC’s appeal that the then Prime Minister imposed the ban.


West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have complained about wild elephants damaging sugarcane, coconuts, plantain, maize and paddy crops.

In September 2014 the Supreme Court restrained the West Bengal state government from going ahead with its proposal to sterilise wild elephants in order to lessen their numbers and thus stop them from being run over on railway tracks. The SC bench termed the proposal as “regressive, absolutely impermissible and also condemnable”.


After all, it is a widely known fact that sterilisation of elephants (and other wild life) adversely affects their behaviour. Culling is worse. Meanwhile, poachers have been shooting, poisoning or using live-wire to kill them – for ivory it seems because it is quite common for the forest department to discover the trunk-less carcasses weeks after the animals were killed.

In many parts of India like in Odisha human-elephant conflict is on the rise. Between 2018 and 2023 elephants had killed 542 people. Their natural forest trails or elephant corridors as they are called have been cut through by railway lines, highways, irrigation canals, mining ventures and factories. In short, elephant habitat has been encroached upon – even with low overhead electrical wires that have resulted in electrocution of elephants – and the routes they have been used to can no longer be used. Can we then blame wild elephants for plundering fields and villages in search of food? Some have fallen into wells and died. Humans have also lost their lives. More and more village farmlands are being kept fallow because farmers and not willing to toil hard from morning to night only to have their fields raided by elephant herds. Some success has been achieved through the use of elephant trackers (employed by the forest departments to chase elephants straying into human settlements), solar fencing, bright spotlights, hooters, elephant-proof trenches, and chilli bombs (consisting of a mixture of chilli powder, cow dung and firecrackers).

In some parts of Maharashtra wild elephants have been halted from raiding crops with the use of a row of beehive boxes put around the periphery of the fields. This is because elephants are instinctively scared of being bitten by bees and do not cross the “beehive fencing”. BWC would have liked the beehives to be wild on trees with the bees aiding pollination only, not as an apiary yielding honey and bee products for the farmers.

The human-elephant conflict is human created “for development” but it has back fired on humans. The solution now is for humans to learn to live with elephants. The forest departments can show survival techniques like those mentioned above to those living in the areas near forests. There exist several devices involving sound and light that can be used to stop wild life from entering human habitation and fields.

Man-elephant conflict takes more than one life a day. In 2017 it was estimated that there were at least 100 elephant corridors in India but development works have encroached on them. No wonder, in 3 years 7 states recorded over 100 deaths due to elephant attacks.

In 2018 poll-bound Chhattisgarh, the Forest Department managed to stop 17 elephants from visiting Mohanpur (a village located about 20 kms from Sarguja in Surajpur forest division) by confining the herd in about 1,600 acres in the adjoining forests of Mohanpur and Chandrapur. Big ponds were dug to create drinking water and around the ponds items like sugarcane and salt were dumped. This was attraction enough for the elephants to remain within the forest and not visit the adjoining villages, however solar fencing was also been laid down to stop them going out into the villages. However, the problem was not entirely solved because soon after another herd of 25 elephants migrating from Odisha (due to large scale mining and deforestation) was spotted in the Sarguja area.

In 2023 a politician from Kerala brazenly threatened to eliminate wild elephants entering human settlements in the hills, saying he had friends in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states who were sharp-shooters and that it would be done to protect people even though illegal. Elephant attacks had killed 106 people between 2018 and 2023 in the state.

In 2024 the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution asking the Centre to allow specified wild animals to be killed if they pose a threat to human life and to declare wild boars as vermin to permit their culling. This was followed by a decision taken at a cabinet meeting to declare human-animal conflict a state-specific disaster, a move that gets the disaster management authority involved in participating in mitigating human-animal conflict. Earlier in 2021 the Centre had declined their request saying “it would do more harm than good” although in 2020 Uttarakhand and in 2015 Bihar states had received the Centre’s permission to temporarily declare wild boar as vermin.

The 2023 guidelines issued by the MoEFCC on mitigating wild boar conflict with humans, state the animals are “multi-speciality ecosystem engineers” and provide measures to reduce conflicts including an accurate assessment of their population hotspots, the management of garbage disposal, and the translocation of wild boars when they’re in abundance in one area. Moreover since they are prey for carnivores, a reduction in their numbers would affect the predators and even lead to a loss of livestock in fringe areas of forests.

Wild animals had got used to all the gimmicks to halt them by erecting solar powered fencing barriers and impediments like digging 511.2 kilometres of elephant proof trenches to prevent their entry into farmlands and residential areas, bursting firecrackers, playing recorded roars of tigers, ropes smeared with chilli-oil on boundaries, pepper sprays, smoke canisters with pepper dung that emit repelling smoke when burnt but its effectiveness depended on the direction of the wind at the time.

However, there are people who realising that crop-raiding has led to people devising cruel and violent electric fencing, firecrackers and even gunshots, have come up with alternate compassionate solutions like the Gawahati based NGO Hati Bondhu that grows paddy in demarcated areas on community land specifically for the elephants to feed on so that they keep the herds contained in and away from crop intended for harvest. 

In November 2023, soon after yet another elephant moving with a herd was mowed down by a passenger train in northern Assam’s Biswanath town by the Guwahati bound Donyi Polo Express coming from Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh, the Railways declared that they would deploy a AI-based intrusion detection system called ‘Gajraj’ on 700 kms to curb jumbo deaths across states in the next 7-8 months to prevent accidents with elephants – 200 elephants had been killed by trains in the last 10 years. A pilot project over a section of 60-70 kms had been undertaken by the Northeast Frontier Railway.

An article that appeared in the 2011 issue of the Scientific American stated that immunocontraception used in elephants in South Africa was the PZP (Porcine Zona Pellucida) vaccine delivered by darts. It involved chemically isolating the proteins from the egg cells of pigs. BWC is not the only one who does not think this technology is ethical right.

By 2019 the elephant population in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Angola had risen, although as many as 111,000 elephants had been poached between 2006 and 2016 in the East African nations. The conservation success in these five countries had resulted in elephant-human conflicts which made them lobby with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna) to permit culling and ivory trade via “concrete interventions”. In 2008 Zimbawe and South Africa were the last to be given permission for a one-time only sale of ivory stockpiles to China, but this had encouraged global demand for ivory and had led to poaching elephants in many other parts of the world. Surprisingly in November 2022, India abstained from voting on a proposal at the CITES meeting to allow commercial sale of ivory from African elephants. It was India’s deal with Namibia for the transfer to cheetahs to Kuno National Park. Luckily the proposal, also supported by Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa who had stockpiled elephant tusks, was defeated.


It is next to impossible to stop the feral rock pigeon population explosion. It just might be possible if they are not fed at all, but that’s unlikely. They’re the common blue species that roost on buildings and forage for food. As things stand, many people feed them grain and other foods as a result of which pigeon faecal matter is found in abundance.

There is no doubt that if pigeon droppings are inhaled it is very harmful for human lungs.

In July 2016 the Bombay High Court hearing a civil suit, ruled that bird feeding from buildings should not be a nuisance to others. In March 2019 the Supreme Court upheld the HC order.

In February 2023 the Allahabad High Court dismissed a petition seeking a direction to the Nagar Nigam, Lucknow, to kill trouble-causing birds and animals.

In March 2023 the Pune Municipal Corporation as well as the Thane Municipal Corporation declared a fine of Rs 500 for anyone found feeding pigeons.


Man-animal conflicts made the British introduce the concept of ‘vermin’ animals in India. Shikaris were paid to kill or eliminate animals that were considered pests. Such bounty hunting was in addition to hunting for sport.

Schedule V that listed ‘Vermin’ was totally removed from the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2022. One would imagine this is good news that no longer any animal or bird would be listed as ‘vermin’ and therefore allowed to be hunted. But, it’s not at all as straight-forward as it seems - ‘Vermin’ was any wild animal notified under Section 62 of the Act which reads:

Declaration of certain wild animals to be vermin – The Central Government may, by notification, declare any wild animals other than those specified in Schedule II to be vermin for any area and for such period as may be specified therein and so long as such notification is in force, such wild animal shall be deemed not to be included in Schedule II for such area and for such period as specified in this notification.

BWC’s Note: Schedule II includes 41 mammals, 864 birds, 12 reptiles, 5 amphibians, 58 insects, 14 molluscs, 10 sponges. And, any of them can be easily declared as ‘vermin’.

In 2014 for the first time the Centre had asked State Governments to send proposals for wild animals to be culled under Section 62. Some States themselves had declared ‘Vermin’ under the then legal Section 11(b) and killed those animals, whereas the Centre had issued notifications under Section 62 in addition, like for Bihar’s nilgai.

As stated above, under the WLP Act if a tiger “become dangerous to human life” it is labelled a “man-eater” and ordered to be shot dead although they do say that they first try to capture such animals alive. For example, in Pilibhit and Dudhwa (UP), Kanha (MP), Sundarbans (West Bengal), Chandrapur (Maharashtra) and Champaran (Bihar). Interestingly, communities living in the proximity of forest areas do not entirely blame tigers for attacking domestic animals and humans because they are well aware of the fact that humans have encroached into wildlife habitats and tigers have lost 95% of their historical range. Moreover, it sounds colonial and sexist to call a tiger a “man-eater”. If a human is killed by wild life (e.g. a leopard) Rs 20 lakh compensation is given to next of kin.

In January 2024 in view of rising human-leopard conflicts in Junnar, the Maharashtra Forest Department proposed sterilisation to control their population.

Nilgai and Others

Citing man-animal conflict, wildlife such as nilgai, wild boar, porcupine, sambhar, cheetal, hare, jackal, monkey, black deer, peacocks and parrots that damage crops have for years from time to time been declared or nearly be declared as vermin under Section 11 of the Wildlife Protection Act which permits killing of animals if they post any threat to the habitat or destroy crops, and allowed to be hunted in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Kerala and Karnataka.

The nilgai has damaged pulses, paddy, vegetables, opium, corn and wheat in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana.

Another name for Nilgai is Roz. In Punjab, the newly constituted state’s Wildlife Board (accused of comprising of well-known hunters) in its first meeting held in July 2017, allowed short term permits for shooting roz and wild boar that damaged crops.

When permission was not granted for endangered black bucks to be killed and they continued destroying standing crops in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, farmers hired shooters. Therefore in Karera Sanctuary their population which was at the time 3,000 came down to 250. From 2000 onwards permission has been often granted in Madhya Pradesh for nilgai to be hunted. In 2012 when Madhya Pradesh wanted to allow wild boar and nilgai to be hunted, the state was accused of wanting to do so to benefit lodge operators to lure tourists who wished to go hunting. However, tigers died in traps laid down to electrocute wild boar.

In 2010 Himachal Pradesh notified nilgai as vermin and allowed them to be culled. In 2011 not only did Kerala give farmers permission to kill wild boars that were destroying their crops, but shooters were paid Rs 500 for every animal they killed.

Against this backdrop, in 2015 Rajasthan to avoid allowing the killing of nilgai to save crops, decided to introduce a population control measure cum sport by inviting marksmen to stalk, chase and shoot them with sterilising contraceptive darts. The “sport” would be in the form of a pilot project. The marksmen would need to sneak up on approximately 55,000 nilgai, aim for their rumps and shoot the darts. If injected right the vaccine would leave a splash of colour on their coats. Interestingly the vaccine could be porcine. So there we go killing one animal to save another.

In 2016 after farmers complained that wild boars were destroying their crops so the government of Uttarakhand declared them as vermin. Soon after Bihar declared nilgai as vermin for the same reason and in June 2016 200 were shot dead. Years earlier in March 2012 the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change and the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare issued a joint advisory against declaring nilgai as vermin and recommended ways to manage. In fact, the advisory was against declaring any wild animal as vermin.

A farmer from Jalore, Rajasthan who felt the extent of damage the nilgai leave behind on entering a field full of crops, is a very serious problem, and went on to say that “the government does not need to cull nilgai. They should be tranquillized and moved to the Ranthambore National Park or some other wildlife sanctuary. That will get them off our backs and provide a natural prey for tigers too.”

Wild Boar are said to damage all kinds of food crops in Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. In 2024 Kerala Assembly passed a resolution asking the Centre to declare wild boars as vermin and permit their culling and allow specified animals to be killed if they pose a threat to human life. Whereas, Peafowl are known to eat grains and fruit crops in Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Gujarat. In 2016, within a couple of months of Bihar and Uttarakhand declaring the Wild Boar as vermin, Goa declared peafowl and Gaur as vermin in the state – ironically the national bird and the state animal which resulted in objections, from BWC included. It is understood that the order regarding the national bird was withdrawn, but not the Gaur.

By 2023 lots of porcupines were found to be entering saffron fields in J&K and damaging the crops because their natural habitats were been reduced – they were migrating into fields from adjoining forest areas. The wild animals were then killed to save the saffron crops or hunted for their meat and quills.

Interestingly, an environmentalist’s sarcastic footnote to his article on vermin said that no culling order had been issued for motor vehicles which account for 400 people every day.

BWC feels neither sterilising nor culling wildlife is a solution. Translocation may work for some species, but this is not undertaken by the government because it is not easy. It involves capture, transport and release which can not be successfully achieved without expertise and money, and requires monitoring at the new location. So the answer is to adapt by understanding that if animals are left undisturbed, they do no harm.

Naphthalene/moth-balls are not meant to be used in open areas (where the vapours can be inhaled) to repel wildlife, nevertheless 2017 onwards many Wardha farmers of Maharashtra began using them as protection for crops, not only against rodents but also wild boars. A couple of moth-balls tied to 2-3 feet sticks and erected at a distance of 15 feet around the field keep them at bay. Earlier they tried phorate/thimet, an insecticide but stopped its use since it could kill their cattle. They say moth-balls are much more effective than bursting fire crackers, playing audio cassettes, or using tiger scat bought from the zoo.

Since electric fences are a cruel solution to keeping wild life out of fields, in 2021 Parabraksh, a solar powered smart animal deterrent light that keeps wild life such as deer, wild boar, nilgai, rabbits, etc. away from raiding crops at night was developed and tried with 75% success by an organisation. Another device called Kapikaat that is placed on trees mimics different sounds of predators to repel monkeys was developed earlier in 2017.

Vermin vis-à-vis the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2022

Man-animal conflicts made the British introduce the concept of ‘vermin’ animals in India. Shikaris were paid to kill or eliminate animals that were considered pests. Such bounty hunting was in addition to hunting for sport.

Scheule V that listed ‘Vermin’ has been totally removed from the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2022. One would imagine this is good news that no long is any animal or bird listed as ‘vermin’ and therefore allowed to be hunted. But, it is not at all as straight-forward as it seems. ‘Vermin’ now means any wild animals notified under Section 62 of the Act which reads:

Declaration of certain wild animals to be vermin – The Central Government may, by notification, declare any wild animal other than those specified in Schedule II to be vermin for any area and for such period as may be specified therein and so long as such notification is in force, such wild animal shall be deemed not to be included in Schedule II for such area and for such period as specified in this notification.

Schedule II includes 41 mammals, 864 birds, 12 reptiles, 5 amphibians, 58 insects, 14 molluscs, 10 sponges. They can now be easily declared as ‘vermin’.

Reverence and Respect for Leopards Pays

The Rabaris are shepherds who live in Rajasthan. They are said to have migrated from Iran over 1,000 years back. They worship nature and think leopards are divine. Bera, Aravalli hills has the biggest population of leopards worldwide, yet they have never attacked the Rabaris who live in close proximity there. They do not harm the leopards and in turn the leopards do not harm them. In fact, they protect the leopards from outsiders.

In contrast leopards are trapped legally and illegally in different states of India.

In Maharashtra leopards are known to live undisturbed by humans in sugar cane fields till harvest time between January and April. Man-animal conflicts arise then because leopards taken by surprise, attack humans. Studies have shown the density of leopards in the sugar cane fields of Junnar is higher than in reserved forests. For example, in February 2018, three leopard cubs were charred to death in a sugar cane field near Ozar (Pune-Nashik Highway, Maharashtra). The fire was suspected to have started from a short circuit in an overhead power cable. Then in 2019 five new born cubs were burnt to death in Ambegaon taluka’s Manchar when farmers started a fire to kill a poisonous snake. However, three month-old leopard cubs discovered during harvesting in a sugar cane field at Nagargaon village in Shirur Range, Maharashtra, were rescued and reunited with their mother in November 2019.

As per the “Status of Leopards, Co-predators, and Mega-herbivores in India – 2018”: Madhya Pradesh has leopards 3,421; Gujarat 2,274; Karnataka 1,783 and Maharashtra 1,690. Of the 1,690 leopards in Maharashtra, only 600 (35%) were recorded in protected areas. In other words, 65% lived outside wild life parks – no wonder they are found in sugar cane fields. Also in 2019-20, 58 human deaths, and 176 leopard deaths in 2020-21 were recorded in Maharashtra. In 2023 the number of leopards in Gujarat was 2,274 and in 2019-21, 48 human deaths, and 503 leopard deaths were recorded in 2018-21. (India has 12,852 leopards as compared to the 2014 estimate of 7,910, an increase of 63% in 4 years.)

In 2022 the Wildlife Institute of India completed a 2 year survey in which it was observed that captured leopards return to the same village even if released in the forest as far as 80 kms away. They obviously prefer to live undetected in sugar cane fields where easy prey and water is available.

In 2023, the state governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat proposed to sterilise leopards in order to control their numbers and in turn conflicts with humans. However, BWC feels that this cannot help solve the problem. Their natural habitat has been destroyed, so where will they go?

In Odisha poaching of leopards and their prey in forest areas has been responsible for their decline (down from 760 in 2018 to 568 in 2024) with 116 leopards having been killed for their skins between 2018 and 2024. Many more have obviously gone un-intercepted.

Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023

The Parliamentary Joint Committee examined the controversial proposed amendments and endorsed the Bill in its entirety. The 1996 Supreme Court judgement protecting forests even if they were not recorded as such is diluted. No protection is given for ‘deemed forest’ areas and tourism and commercial use is allowed. Within 100 kms of international borders no forest clearance is necessary for construction of highways and other projects. The amendments which encourage plantation cultivation may increase tree cover, but will be unable to stem the loss of dense forests which are crucial as carbon sinks and wild life habitats.

Canine Control

A dog is man’s best friend but what is meted out to the majority of dogs by man is, to say the least, disgraceful.

Street dogs are considered a menace and fit to be got rid of, again, because of their high increasing numbers. No one acknowledges that the unwanted dogs have all originated from pet dogs.

When dogs bite humans in self defence, they panic and rush to the closest hospital for anti-rabies shots… these injections and treatments are recorded. Therefore, the dog bite cases’ figures (note: not rabies cases’ figures) released at the end of the year are over a hundred times higher and far from represent the actual number of dogs that turned rabid. Moreover “animal bite cases” include not only dogs, but others like cats, pigs, horses, monkeys, snakes, wolves, etc.

On 28 September 2011, World Rabies Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) India’s website declared that “rabies continues to be a major public health problem in India killing an estimated 20,000 people annually”. But, in the same year, the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare declared that there were only 223 human deaths due rabid dog bites (and 1440 due to snake bites). Furthermore, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) documented only 138 deaths in 2013, and stated that 274, 361, 221, 244, 260, 162 and 223 deaths had occurred each year from 2005 to 2011 (an annual average of 249). Interestingly two years later in 2013, the WHO-sponsored National Multicentric Rabies Survey conducted by Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India collected data from government hospital isolation units and declared that on an average 235 deaths due to rabies occurred in India each year. Government hospitals are the only hospitals mandated and supposedly equipped to handle rabies patients, so there is no reason to doubt the figures.

As per the Livestock Census in 2019 India had 15.3 million stray dogs – reduced by 10% from the 17.1 million recorded in 2012. Many say mass culling of street dogs is the answer to increasing dog bites but as many disagree. If killed, other dogs will take their place to consume food from garbage and what feeders dish out, because that is how community dogs live in territories.

Year 1800 onwards, for about 2¼ centuries sterilisation programmes to control stray dog populations have been undertaken in most countries. But they can not successfully conclude because common sense is not implemented: unless and until the rate of female sterilisation well exceeds that of multiplication, no population can ever be controlled, leave alone brought down!

So dogs continue to live on the road, are mostly unwanted and suffer although more than a few are now cared for and sterilised. A new approach called END (Early-age Neutering of Dogs) is being implemented alongside ABC (Animal Birth Control) with young puppies being sterilised and given for adoption when they are 2 or 3 months old.

Every bitch over a year old and not spayed gives birth to 5-6 puppies every 6 months. Of these 1-2 pups are likely to die of natural causes. The remaining 4 would probably be 2 males and 2 female. Therefore, by spaying ONE bitch, we stop her multiplying into 340 dogs over 3 years:

Month & Year Bitches Female Pups Male Pups
June 2023 1 2 2
January 2024 1 4 4
June 2024 3 8 10
January 2025 5 16 20
June 2025 11 32 42
January 2026 21 64 84
June 2026 43 128 170

Total female dog population 43+128=171

On the other hand, there are projects that produce test-tube puppies. On 10 July 2015, 5 Beagles and 2 Beagle-Cocker Spaniels were born in vitro fertilisation through research carried out at Cornell University and the Smithsonian Institution. Since the mid-1970 research along these lines has been unsuccessful – read, trial and error, deformity and death. However, in 2012 a Beagle-Labrador Retriever pup was born from a frozen embryo. But there is no update available on it after 2013 since the technique is focused upon, not the living dog.

Grown for Slaughter

There are many species of animals, birds and water creatures that are specially bred with the sole aim of killing them so their flesh can be eaten by humans. In short, animals are farmed (grown) for harvest (slaughter).

Sounds horrible, but that’s how man exploits myriads of species for their flesh and other body-parts. Chickens, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, turkeys, ducks, emus, ostriches, fish, shrimps, crocodiles, (the list is very long) are all made to multiply. Their babies are torturously raised till they reach the desired weight and size, and then murdered to eat.

Their skin and feathers bring in high monetary gains too and are therefore not by-products of these meat-murder industries.

Milk and Meat of Human Unkindness

Successful breeding of dairy cows to produce large quantities of milk was the reason why researchers further developed different methods of selective reproduction without actual sex between male and female animals.

Treated as commodities for commercial gain and with the aim of deriving maximum milk or meat from them, cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, poultry are others are selectively bred and subjected to unnatural procedures like the ones described below:

Artificial Insemination (AI) is the forceful collection of male semen which is deliberately introduced into a female vagina or oviduct to make her pregnant. Nearly 7.5 crore AIs are performed annually in India resulting in average conception of 35%. And, the Government is targeting to extend AI to 65% of the total breed-able milch cattle (cows and buffaloes) by 2021-22 from 25% in 2019.

Despite the prevalence of cow worship, AI is the norm for breeding dairy cattle in India – ironically encouraged by the government and unfortunately practised by pinjrapoles and gaushalas.

Dairies keep no bulls, simply buy selected semen. Hormone treatment induces ovulation and increases milk production in cows, but it goes without saying that unwanted male calves are discarded.

In 2011 when milk prices continued to rise (having almost doubled in two years) and the demand growing at 7-8% annually, the government announced a “national dairy plan to increase per cow milk production through artificial insemination” which would cost Rs 8,000 crores. The plan was to promote research and development of semen to give birth to high milk producing cattle and improve fodder production to meet the needs of the new breed of cows. Implementation they said would begin from financial year 2012 with help from the World Bank for a long term 15 year project.

Meanwhile, AI continues flourish with state targets for additional centres aiming to increasing the population of crossbreed cattle. Such special initiatives are implemented under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana with crores of rupees being sanctioned so that milk production goes up substantially.

The percentage of milch animals bred through AI is definitely rising 20 to 35% and is likely to reach 4 million deliveries per annum by the end of the 6-year National Dairy Plan. For example, in 2012 the Animal Husbandry Department of Punjab bought from the USA and Canada, an initial 5,000 doses of sex-specific semen for inseminating cattle. 95% of the calves born were female so now farmers need not bother about disposing off unwanted male calves. Sale of 50,000 doses at Rs 600/- each followed.


Sex Sorted Semen or semen with 90-93% female chromosome bearing sperms, produced in labs such as BDRF is used to significantly increase the chances of bovine female conception in milch cows and buffaloes. The calves born using this advanced technology on an average grow at the rate of 900 grams a day as compared to others that grow at the rate of 400 grams per day.

In vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Ovum-Pick-Up (OPU) technologies are processes by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body, i.e. in vitro or “within glass”.

In OPU cells are collected from the ovaries of a living animal using an ultrasound-guided needle. Fertilised and incubated for a week, the embryo called blastocyst, is then transferred to a surrogate female.

For example, between September 2016 and April 2018 the J K Trust using an ultrasound-guided follicular aspiration technique conducted 24 oocyte aspirations on a poor Gir cow. The oocytes were placed in a petri dish and fertilised for a week. The resultant 99 embryos were then transferred to recipient cows. Thus 13 calves were born in 1 year from a single cow using IVF technology. (It is unnatural and cruel because a cow can naturally produce no more than 8 to 10 calves during her entire life time.)

Embryo Transfer Technology (ETT) is assisted reproduction involving flushing (removal) of embryos from a hormone treated donor female and placing them in female surrogates whose reproductive cycles are at the same stage as the donor.

Removal of embryos from high productive females in order to produce more heifer and/or bull calves per female per year is carried out for faster production.

Evaluations have enabled ETT to be further increased by estrous synchronisation, including super ovulation which involves increasing normal ovulation through hormone treatment.

Cloning is another word for duplicating. The world’s most widely publicised clone was Dolly, a lamb developed by British scientists at the Roslin Institute in 1996. Following 277 failed attempts, she was developed from a single cell taken from a mammary gland.

With the aim of increasing milk and meat production, fast multiplication of highly productive animals is desired and so cloning continues to be experimented upon in most countries.

The camel, carp, cat, cattle, deer, dog, ferret, frog (tadpole), fruit fly, gaur, goat, horse, mice, Mouflon, mule, pig, Pyrenean ibex, rabbit, rat, Rhesus monkey, sheep, water buffalo and wolf have been all subjected to different cloning techniques.

Bizarre to the Extreme: Chinese scientists have produced genetically modified cows whose milk is 80% the same as human breast milk. It was done by introducing human genetic coding into the DNA of Holstein dairy cow embryos, then transferring the embryos into cow surrogates. By 2011, 300 cloned cattle were at the experimental farm in Beijing which was started in 2003. An affordable form of the milk is expected to be marketed by 2014 after completion of clinical trials for safety on humans.

Ignoble research: Why such cruel and unjustified exploitation?

  • To produce more offspring in shorter periods
  • To rapidly multiply desired genotypes
  • To speed up selection intensity
  • To transfer and introduce superior germplasm rapidly
  • To shorten intervals between generations
  • To produce twins and triplets
  • To produce offspring of desired sex
  • To control diseases better
  • To facilitate export and import of superior germplasms
  • To create copies of profitable animals

It is downright unnatural, unethical and immoral with exploitation the basis, cruelty the mode, and greed the motivator.

Page last updated on 11/04/24