From what we know, the elephant Saumya was killed by eating a fruit with firecrackers fitted in it, which burst in her mouth, causing both burn injuries as well as spreading poison. The horrific incident has revealed that the practice of using fruit with firecrackers and light ammunition to kill wild boar in Kerala and other parts of India (there are reports from Maharashtra as well) is very common. The violence is legal as long as it is inflicted upon animals declared vermin.

The use of what can at best be called “terrorist” or “military” tactics against marginal animals – that is, animals that are considered vermin, alien or economically useless – has a long history. For example, in Australia, rabbit warrens are destroyed through a practice known as “ripping” that uses bulldozers to bury rabbits alive.

More recently, there are many reports of chicken, pigs and other species being buried alive or suffocated en masse since the Covid-19 crisis has made them unfit for slaughter.

Coming back to vermin species, human-animal conflict is a real issue and we understand that many farmers who suffer losses due to animals are themselves marginal. We must protect the farmers and their crops from any kind of devastation.

However, the root...

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