Opinion Piece


R S Tejus:

In a recent Parliamentary discussion on the amendments to the Wildlife (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972, it was observed most of our leaders were not keen on conserving forests and wildlife. A few MPs have grossly misunderstood the Constitution and Supreme Court judgements on wildlife and have no idea what they are talking about. Some remarks reflected as if only human lives were important and superior to that of wildlife. Culling of animals was also discussed — isn’t it genuinely gross to the Parliament itself? 

Parliamentarian Thomas Chazhikadan, Kottayam, Kerala remarked as if he was all for conservation and this amendment was the need of the hour. But later started making comments about making provisions in the Bill to protect humans from wildlife attacks, especially elephants.

He has wholly misread, misinterpreted or misunderstood Article 21 of the Constitution as he said it is right to life; hence it is humans first and then comes wildlife. However, the fact is Article 21 which gives right to life, right to clean environment as well, it has been mentioned in many of the SC Judgments that Article 21 is not just about the humans alone.

The MP spoke about the increasing human-wildlife conflicts and did not even utter a single word about rapid scale of deforestation and habitat loss in Kerala and other parts of India, which is the prime cause of conflicts. He further specified the delay in approval for the culling of wild boars and the need for moving it to the “vermin category” under the schedules of the WPA in the name of helping farmers.

While MP Dr Abdussamad Samadani, Malappuram said there is no provision for protection of humans from wildlife in the WPA Amendment Bill. Many humans have lost their lives due to attacks and he called for culling and other such anti-conservation measures.

MP Anto Antony, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, went further on a full denial mode to seek help in regulating the increasing wildlife population and protection of human beings. What about the ever-increasing human population and deforestation, which he failed to bring up in his remarks?

MP Adv Dean Kuriakose, Idukki spoke about wildlife population and especially the elephant population. They have increased much beyond the carrying capacity of the forests, he said and added the vermin list should be left open and filled with all the wild animals causing harm to the farmers and the people in general scientifically and adopt hunting strategies. Such remarks by the leader in the Parliament will have a drastic negative trickle-down effect on the people of Kerala. 

MP Pradyut Bordoloi, Nawgong, Assam pressed for protection of habitats and acknowledged the fact of the shrinkage of the forests resulting in higher human-wildlife conflicts. He also stated the removal of invasive species like Mimosa, which are destroying the habitats. MP Ramshiromani Verma, Sharwasti, UP, MP Jayadev Galla, Guntur, AP have been for the conservation of wildlife and its habitats and spoken on invasive species and other key issues. 

Likewise, MPs have spoken for and against the conservation of forests and wildlife. On the whole, it reflects that all the leaders lack any clear understanding on the subject and the impact it has on the ecosystem, culture etc. The lack of knowledge is visible, and it is essential to educate our leaders so that the next time they speak, they speak with knowledge.

A few MPs have entirely misunderstood the Constitution, Article 21; they should be made known that it is not just about people, but it is an all-inclusive one. Voice for conservation has to be whole, and one and all, the MPs should acknowledge the fact of diversity our country has to offer. If the leader leads from the front in the right way, people will automatically support the cause for conservation.