Prelims level : Environment- Biodiversity Mains level : GS- III Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
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  • Context– Union Environment Ministry (MoEFCC) has declared Monkeys (Rhesus Macaque) as ‘vermin’ in Himachal Pradesh.

What is Vermin?

  • Any animal which poses a threat to human and their livelihood especially farming, can be declared Vermin under Schedule V of Wildlife Protection act 1972.
  • States can send a list of wild animals to the Centre requesting it to declare them vermin for selective slaughter. Wildlife Protection Act 1972, empower every State’s Chief Wildlife Warden for culling. Wild boars, nilgai and rhesus monkeys are protected under Schedule II and III, but can be hunted under specific conditions.

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972:

  • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species.
  • The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants; and for matters connected there with or ancillary or incidental thereto.
  • Though Rhesus Macaque monkeys are protected species under Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the law allows for it to be hunted by declaring it ‘vermin’ for a specific period if it poses a danger to human life or property.

Permissions for hunting wildlife:

  • The Wildlife Act empowers every State’s Chief Wildlife Warden to authorise hunters to cull animals in a region where they are a proven nuisance.
  • Wildlife laws also consider hunted wildlife as ‘government property’ and impose restrictions on how these carcasses must be disposed.


  • Himachal Pradesh forest department’s website clearly shows a marked decline in the number of monkeys in the state, yet the Centre declares it as vermin due to overpopulation.
  • Previously monkeys were sterilised by the government has cost the tax payer Rs 50 crore.
  • Many wildlife conservationists believe that a species coming into conflict with humans is a clear symptom of forest mismanagement and forest department must be held accountable for human-wildlife conflict situation anywhere in the country.

Key Provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act:

  • The Act extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir which has its own wildlife act.
  • It defines five types of protected areas viz.
    • National Parks
    • Wildlife Sanctuaries
    • Community Reserves
    • Conservation Reserves
    • Tiger Reserves.
  • Act has Six Schedules with varying degrees of protection to different kinds of animals and plants.

Schedules of the Wild Life Protection Act

  • Six Schedules in Wildlife Protection Act with varying degrees of protection.
  • Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection.
  • Penalties for Schedule III and Schedule IV are less and these animals are protected.
  • Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted.
  • Example: Common crow, Fruit bats, Mice & Rats only
  • Schedule VI contains the plants, which are prohibited from cultivation and planting.
    • Beddomes’ cycad (Cycas beddomei)
    • Blue Vanda (Vanda soerulec)
    • Kuth (Saussurea lappa)
    • Ladies slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum spp.)
    • Pitcher plant (Nepenthes khasiana)
    • Red Vanda (Rananthera inschootiana


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