Foe-turned-friend: Proposal for tiger culling brings ecologist Gadgil closer to Kerala Church

The Catholic church, which had held protests and burned Madhav Gadgil’s effigy across Kerala in 2013, now hails him for his support and proposal to cull tigers that stray into human habitations.

Published: 21st January 2023 03:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2023 03:52 PM   |  A+A-

Madhav Gadgil

Madhav Gadgil

Express News Service

KOCHI: The statement by ecologist Madhav Gadgil on the culling of tigers in Wayanad and licenced hunting outside national parks has triggered a heated debate and turned the environmentalists against him who had held Gadgil in high esteem.

But the most unexpected change has been witnessed in the approach of the Church in Kerala.

The Catholic church, which had held protests and burned Madhav Gadgil’s effigy across Kerala in 2013, now hails him for his support and proposal to cull tigers that stray into human habitations.

"The same church people had burnt the effigy of Madhav Gadgil across Kerala and had disrupted a meeting when Gadgil spoke at KILA in Thrissur. Though we had supported his suggestion of declaring the Western Ghats as an Eco-sensitive area, there were some proposals that we couldn't endorse. He had recommended killing wild boar straying into farmlands and selling the meat as value-added
products," said environmentalist M N Jayachandran.

“We appreciate the change in the stand of Madhav Gadgil, whose recommendations on the declaration of Eco sensitive area around the Western Ghats had added to the perils of farmers. The church endorses the stand to cull the wild animals that cause trouble to the farmers living in forest fringe areas. We should ensure the protection of the life and property of farmers,” said Kerala Catholic Bishops Council Home Justice and Development Commission secretary Fr Jacob Mavunkal.

The farmers are the real protectors of the environment and mother earth, said Save Western Ghat People Foundation (SWGPF) chairman James Vadakkan.

"The Geographical Area of Kerala is 38,852 sq km of which 9,679 sq km area is recorded forest. However, the state's total tree cover is 21,253 sq km. The farmers have extended the tree cover by 11,574 sq km, he
said. The forest cover in Kerala is 54.7% while the all-India average is 24.62%. What is the need to extend the forest cover when we have a healthy ecosystem?" he asked.

ALSO READ | Culling of tigers in Kerala ‘mere proposal’, but still on table

Around 70 per cent of the land in Kerala is already under regulations, imposing more regulations in the name of an Eco-Sensitive Zone is injustice and will affect the livelihood of farmers. While the recorded forest in Kerala is 9,438 sq km, only 3,217.73 sq km falls under wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.

He further said that the forest department can extend the boundary of the sanctuaries and national parks to 9,000 sq km and shift the forest boundary to 10 km away from human habitations declaring it as an eco-sensitive zone. 

Later this evening, the SWGPF will organise an online discussion on the threat to human life due to the straying of wild animals to human habitations at 8 pm. Bishop of Syro-Malabar Church Thamarassery diocese, Mar Remigius Inchananiyil will preside over the discussion. Ecologist Madhav Gadgil will also deliver a lecture on environmental protection and wild animal menace. The programme will conclude with a discussion of the issues.


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