Hunting ought to be outlawed

Feb 17, 2023

A few days back, I was reading an article in The Times of India about H.S. Pabla, who was the former principal chief conservator of forests (and wildlife) in Madhya Pradesh. When I first started reading this article, I assumed there would be some interesting news about saving the earth or the ecosystem. But, when I completed the article, I was in shock at the statements made by someone with such authority.

Although we can understand that Mr. Pabla must not have done much to protect wildlife despite having the authority to do so. He suggests that, like African countries, India should also legalize “hunting”. He says hunting as a game can generate financial benefits. His suggestion is shocking and shows a complete disregard for the welfare of wildlife and the country’s natural resources. Wildlife is the country’s precious wealth.

It’s surprising that someone with his authority and who has been nominated to help wildlife can make such harsh statements. It shows his lack of true understanding of wildlife conservation and its benefits to the environment, economy, and people. His idea of using hunting to preserve the environment is flawed, as it disregards the fact that such an activity can have a detrimental effect on wildlife populations.

How can we expect any kind of protection from these kinds of people? How can we think our wildlife is safe under such an authority? His suggestion of promoting hunting and trophy hunting in the name of wildlife conservation has sparked a huge debate among animal rights activists and forest conservationists. Even a small child today understands that only the ecosystem can sustain life, including humans. As a result, hunting and trophy hunting can be seen as unsustainable activities that should not be encouraged to protect the environment.

For many years, we have been destroying the forest and animals, and this destruction has caused irreparable damage to the ecosystem, leading to species becoming extinct and a drastic reduction in biodiversity. This destruction of nature has been enhanced by the growth of trophy hunting, in which wealthy individuals pay large sums of money to hunt and kill rare animals such as elephants and rhinos.

For this reason, the Government of India has taken action to ban hunting in India. It was permitted in India earlier, and thus, considerable damage has already been done, and it is impossible to restore or reverse the delicate balance of nature that was destroyed. That’s the reason we don’t have cheetahs in India. It’s been more than 70 years since cheetahs went extinct in India. Today, this iconic and majestic animal is confined to the wilderness of a few African countries, including Botswana and South Africa.

As a reintroduction activity, the Indian government recently brought eight African cheetahs from Namibia, five females and three males, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi released. The cheetahs were released in an effort to reclaim the species, which once roamed freely across the Indian grasslands. The Cheetah Introduction Project is not an easy effort and has received a budget of Rs. 90 crore. Much more than we had previously and had lost to hunting.

The aim of “Project Cheetah” is to monitor and protect the population of cheetahs once they are released into the wild in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This project was proposed in 2008–09 and approved by Manmohan Singh but couldn’t be completed at that time due to various reasons. After more than a decade, the project is now being implemented, and the funds will be used for various activities including wildlife management, conservation of grassland, the purchase of necessary equipment, and monitoring of cheetah populations.

The big animals need more space in the forest to find enough food, shelter, and space to survive. So, when we reduce the size of the forest, we are taking away their habitat. As a result, they move out of the wild and enter human habitation, confronting people and sometimes destroying crops, property, and even human lives. Who makes these animals step out of their comfort zone and enter human settlements? We humans are to blame, not these animals. We need to ensure that animal habitats are protected from human activities such as deforestation, poaching, and illegal logging.

Have we not read the many news articles claiming leopards are coming into the city confines of Mumbai? And we just spoke here about Mumbai, and the entire country has its share of wildlife-human confrontation news.

In India, hunting is still going on illegally, which the government is unable to stop. In some places, forest employees are also involved in hunting activities. Just imagine that if hunting is made legal, we will have empty forests within weeks, forget months or years.

Mr. Pabla also claims that we can earn a lot of money by selling meat. But has he thought about how long we can sustain killing animals legally? Today, we enjoyed a wildlife safari. This activity generates a lot of money from the general public. Imagine that parks like Ranthambhore charge Rs. 50,000/- plus for a full-day safari for a jeep, and periodic safaris come for not less than Rs. 10,000/- per jeep. With no animals, who would want to come to enjoy the safaris? The thrill of a safari is because of the wild animals. And, in the end, this money-making activity will perish as well.

Preserving wildlife not only generates income for those living near the forest, but it is also essential for the maintenance of a healthy, and functioning natural environment. As a result, every effort should be made to protect the environment and wildlife from the effects of human disregard for nature. In addition to providing income, preserving wildlife and their habitats also serves to protect biodiversity and natural resources, as well as help maintain a healthy balance in ecosystems.