Centre turns down Himachal’s request to declare monkeys vermin again
Once the monkeys are put in the vermin category, the forest department can cull them so as to prevent crop depredation, conflict with humans, and loss of property. In 2016, the Himachal agriculture department reported a crop loss of ₹184.28 crore due to wild animals, particularly monkeys.
The Centre has turned down the Himachal Pradesh government’s request to declare rhesus macaque monkeys ‘vermin’ again.
The state had requested the union ministry of environment, forests and climate change to declare monkeys vermin again, after an earlier notification in this regard, expired in April.
Once the monkeys are put in the vermin category, the forest department can cull them so as to prevent crop depredation, conflict with humans, and loss of property.
The Centre had declared monkeys vermin for the first time in 2016 in 93 tehsils of Himachal Pradesh by way of a notification. Since then, the Centre extended the permission to cull monkeys at least four times. Of the total 12 districts, monkeys menace is prevalent in 10. Of the 17,794 villages in the state, 2,300 are badly hit. In 2016, the agriculture department reported a crop loss of ₹184.28 crore due to wild animals, particularly monkeys.
Following the latest request, the Centre asked the state how many monkeys were killed by farmers during the period in which they were put in the vermin category. It also sought to know whether there was an increase or decrease in monkey attacks on humans.
“The government had to file a review petition before the ministry to declare monkeys vermin again. But it could not be done. The department has filed a fresh review petition and we are hopeful that the centre will declare monkeys vermin again,” said forest minister Rakesh Pathania.
Principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF, wildlife) Ajay Srivastava said the central ministry had raised some queries and objections which are being removed. He said several instances of monkey-killing by farmers were not reported due to various reasons.
“Some data from the field is still awaited and we will write to the MoEF again,” he said.
As per the 2020 census, Himachal Pradesh has a monkey population of 1, 36,443. In 2004, their population was more than 3.17 lakh.
The forest department attributes the reduction in monkey population to the sterilisation programme. The forest department has eight monkey sterilisation centres in Shimla, Hamirpur, Kangra, Una, Chamba, Sirmaur and Mandi, besides mobile units.
Since 2006-07, more than 1.40 lakh monkeys have been sterilised at these centres.
President of Himachal Kisan Sabha and former IFS Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, however, said the sterilisation programme has failed to achieve its objectives. He said more than 40,000 monkeys have been killed across the state since they were declared vermin but were not reported.