Debate over a man-eater: when will India prioritise human safety over animals?

    PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2018, 3:08pm
    UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2018, 3:08pm

    India is embroiled in a debate regarding the shooting of a man-eater tigress by state government hunters. A federal minister, Maneka Gandhi, has alleged that this is tantamount to murder and sought the dismissal of the state minister and officials. She is also distraught about the two cubs of the tigress which have been orphaned.

    Mrs Gandhi should understand that the tigress which was shot at the behest of the state government, with due Supreme Court sanctions, was a man-eater and is believed to have killed 13 people. Farmers and rural communities had been warned for months not to venture out alone in the Yavatmal district in Maharashtra state. Such were the dangers posed by this tigress. Her two cubs can be adopted by a zoo or wild life sanctuary in India.

    There are laws in India that restrict the extermination of stray dogs, and large numbers rule many streets. In some urban areas it is difficult to return to your home late at night due to attacks by these dogs. In the villages, small children can be attacked by stray dogs looking for food. How can we allow this to go on?

    The recent ban on cow slaughter by Indian state governments is now leading to cattle straying onto the roads in the countryside. Before, when a cow ceased to give milk, the farmer would sell her to a butchery. Now, he cannot do it. So he just releases the cows into the streets to fend for themselves.

    Recently I travelled in the interiors of Gujarat and Haryana states, home to some of the largest cow populations and accounting for the highest milk production in India. I noticed abandoned cows searching for food on the streets, in garbage bins and even on the motorways. On the main arterial roads, these stray cattle pose a severe danger, since they dart suddenly into traffic and the motorist has to brake suddenly. There is also the atrocious fear of local vigilantes. If a driver kills a cow in an accident, he could be in danger of being lynched by the local mob.

    Rajendra Aneja, Mumbai