India now has too many tigers?  Minister of State’s ‘sacrifice’ comment sparks dispute

India now has too many tigers? Minister of State’s ‘sacrifice’ comment sparks dispute

An Indian state forest minister is facing the ire of wildlife lovers and conservationists across the country for his incendiary comments about tigers and their “culling”.

Kerala’s forest and wildlife protection minister AK Saseendran has made a bizarre comment about the killing of tigers at the state’s Wayanad wildlife sanctuary after he allegedly received complaints from locals about tiger attacks.

He was quoted as saying by the new indian express that “the government is contemplating asking the Supreme Court for permission to cull tigers.”

He said: “Although the department considered controlling the tiger population through sterilization, experts have opined that it is not possible. So, Kerala is contemplating moving the top court.”

These comments have outraged naturalists and wildlife lovers in India who denounced the minister’s ignorance. In India, under the Wildlife Protection Act, it is illegal to kill tigers in almost all circumstances, except in rare cases where a tiger is declared to be a man-eater.

The tiger is the national animal of India. According to the latest available data from the National Tiger Conservation Authority of 2018, there are around 2,967 tigers in India, more than 70 percent of the global tiger population.

A tiger fatally attacked a 50-year-old man on January 13 in the Mananthavady forest range in the Wayanad district of Kerala. After his death, the minister claimed that angry locals demanded that the tiger be killed.

Since then, the state forest minister, Saseendran, has been heavily criticized. Rajesh Gopal, former Secretary General of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, called the Kerala government’s discussion of the culling of tigers in Wayanad “appalling”.

According to local media, he said that “the proposal reveals the pathetic situation in which we live.”

Mr. Gopal added: “I have no words to express my anguish… We used to cite Kerala as the best example of being proactive in conservation. We never expected such statements from the state.”

Later, having faced backlash, the minister moved to clarify his position, telling BBC News that “we have to find a solution to control the animals… I am in no rush to cull.”

In another interview, he attributed the interpretation of his initial comments to “language limitations.”

He added: “Sacrifice is not practical. Other options, such as relocation, involve comparatively less legal paperwork. I have directed department officials to investigate such possibilities.”

He also agreed that killing a man-eater and sacrificing tigers were different things.

Even after retracting the comments, the Kerala government has not completely rejected the idea of ​​culling a tiger. Saseendran told the new indian express that the state government may still approach the central government for amendments to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 to legalize the killing and movement of wild animals that threaten human life.

Saseendran said: “As a state where the number of wild animals has registered phenomenal growth, Kerala wants some leeway in dealing with human-animal conflict.”

He continued: “The Wildlife Protection Act is no longer useful in dealing with problems that are now emerging, such as human-wildlife conflict. It was drafted and enacted at a time when there were no cases of wild animals attacking humans and farmland.”

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