The National Wildlife Action Plan, which will be used by authorities as the main document for wildlife conservation over next 15 years, advocates use of electronic surveillance systems and drones for protecting sensitive protected areas. Photo: AFP
The National Wildlife Action Plan, which will be used by authorities as the main document for wildlife conservation over next 15 years, advocates use of electronic surveillance systems and drones for protecting sensitive protected areas. Photo: AFP

Develop protocol for mercy killing, euthanasia for animals: wildlife plan

The third National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-31) has included mercy killing, euthanasia for wild animals and integrating climate change in wildlife planning among focus areas

New Delhi: A mechanism for mercy killing and euthanasia for wild animals is among focus areas outlined by the government in its latest National Wildlife Action Plan, along with identification of alternative homes for species that exist in just one location in the country and integrating climate change in wildlife planning.

The focus areas have been listed in the third National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-31) recently finalized by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. The first NWAP was adopted in 1983 and the second in 2002.

“The subject of euthanasia among the wild animals has remained a sensitive subject. The IUCN (International Union For Conservation of Nature) has begun to differentiate euthanasia from mercy killing, the former being the act of putting an end to the misery of terminally ill animals, and the latter dealing with the issue of putting apparently healthy animals to sleep for reasons of space, lack of proper centres, resources and personnel," according to the third NWAP, which has been reviewed by Mint.

The plan states that there is an urgent need to define these terms in the Indian context and identify procedures and implementing agencies.

“Establish a practical and legally binding protocol on the subject of mercy killing and euthanasia of wild animals based on the advice of a committee of experts drawn from the wildlife and the veterinary sciences," says the plan document, adding that the protocol would be established by 2019.

It also asks the Union ministry of information and broadcasting to start a new channel DD-Prakriti.

The plan takes note of the rising ‘human wildlife conflict’ and calls for surveys to collect data at the national, regional and state levels and prioritisation of species and areas for focussed interventions.

It also asks authorities to “identify, validate, promote and disseminate Indigenous Traditional Knowledge available in various parts of the country" for dealing with human-wildlife conflict and promoting peaceful cohabitation with wild animals.

Another important area the plan looks at is the identification of alternative homes for species that exist only in one location in the country.

“Identify suitable alternative homes for species having one or two isolated populations such as Jerdon’s Courser, Batagur turtle, Asiatic lion, etc. and prepare conservation plans for the same," says the plan, while noting that work on this will start in 2018 and finish by 2021.

The plan also seeks the development of a network for data collection to assess the impact of climate change on all ecosystems with respect to their ecological services and incorporate the findings in the management of tiger reserves and protected areas with adaptive or mitigation measures.

“Undertake research on animal responses to climate change, emerging zoonotic diseases and the threats of hybridisation so that appropriate adaptation plans are drawn for species and areas," it recommended.

It also seeks a programme for assisted migration of wildlife due to climate change, stating that it may be needed in many cases, especially in highly fragmented landscapes and coastal areas.

The plan, which will be used by authorities as the main document for wildlife conservation over next 15 years, advocates use of electronic surveillance systems and drones for protecting sensitive protected areas. It also stresses securing “elephant and tiger corridors" across the country.

The plan calls for a ‘National Wetland Mission’ on the lines of the ‘Clean Ganga Mission’ by 2018, covering all fresh water ecosystems of India, to support clean environment, water and livelihoods of people over the long term.

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