A pregnant elephant consumes a pineapple with firecrackers and dies. The fruit bomb was not for her, but wild boar who ruin the local crops. What do we make of this and the many cases of unbelievable cruelty against animals in India?
Human-animal conflict should be addressed as an emergency. In the first instance, habitat conservation, even commons, is the most essential means of reducing torment to wildlife. Animals seek food or walkways because their own habitats are destroyed. Some believe selective culling by the forest department is a solution. It’s short term-other individuals will follow the food.
Some state governments have been allowed to cull, yet what is the basis of this culling? Should you kill every single wild boar and then later term it endangered? Where is the ground research? And if it is done, will we see Tigress Avni like opaque, cruel shooting? Investment in smarter, preventive measures on farm-based conflict is needed. What tactics have worked? How to scale them? Finally, vermin is an outdated category, before the ecosystem approach. Such animals should not be fair game for torture.
People will continue to kill them, but science must help find other ways to prevent their presence, or worse case, work with farmers to cull them for a specific period. At least let culling be scientific, transparent, short-term and replaced by conservation.
Preventing such violence to wildlife needs both modern and traditional knowledge systems. They must be speedily harvested, before both the animals and custodians of such knowledge pass on.
(The writer is the Founder and Director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)