The Madhya Pradesh government is planning to launch a pilot project aimed at capturing Nilgais in the forested areas of Chhattarpur, Shajapur and Morena districts through a “trial-and-error” method, instead of culling them.
The state wildlife department will also put out advertisements aimed at enlisting the help of interested people and organisations to capture the animals, so they can be shifted to protected zones.
According to wildlife officials, Nilgais have been damaging crops in many parts of the state – including Bhind, Morena, Chhattarpur, Rewa, Satna, Shajapur and Agar districts. The problem came to a head in 2015, when farmers from Neemuch district launched a hunger strike to demand adequate compensation from the state government.
Additional principal chief conservator of Forests (APCCF) RP Singh told HT that the state government has no plans to cull Nilgais. He, however, admitted that capturing the animals could be difficult as forest officials don’t even know the dosage of tranquillers required to be administered.
Explaining the reason for the “trial-and-error” method, Singh said: “Nilgais are very sturdy and heavy, but fast. There are few who know how to successfully catch these animals without causing them harm. Moreover, when we chase Nilgais, they end up running very fast and breaking a limb or two – and that’s equivalent to death for a wild animal.”
The issue of culling wild beasts in human-animal conflict areas hit the headlines recently, when women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi lashed out at Union environment Prakash Javadekar on Thursday over his “lust for killing animals”.
The Nilgai, Asia’s largest antelope, is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. Placed in the ‘Least Concern’ category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, it is listed under Schedule IV of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.