In the wake of a controversy over the Union environment ministry’s nod to killing nilgais (blue bulls) in Bihar to save crops, the Bengal government has sought the Centre’s approval to catch wild elephants to protect farmlands and people.
“This is to put a lid on the population of tuskers. According to our information, there are at least 500-600 elephants roaming free in different areas of Bengal. We are hopeful that the Centre will agree to our proposal,” state forest minister Binay Krishna Barman said.
Elephants usually stray into heavily-populated areas in the state, damaging crops and claiming human lives. A few days ago, a tusker had walked inside the Burdwan University campus, though no lives were lost in the incident. Last year, an elephant had attacked people in Siliguri.
The Bengal government’s move comes in the wake of a row over the Bihar government hiring professional hunters to gun down over 200 Nilgais in less than a week with the Union environment ministry’s approval.
On Thursday, Union minister Maneka Gandhi, an animal welfare activist in her own right, came out all guns blazing against environment minister Prakash Javadekar, accusing him of indiscriminately killing wildlife.
“In Bengal, they (environment ministry) have permitted the killing of elephants, in Himachal they have ordered killing of monkeys, and in Goa they gave permission to kill peacocks,” Maneka said.
Javadekar said the permission to kill wildlife was targeted, scientifically safe and legal if requested by local authorities.