Wildlife & Biodiversity

Bihar plans to sterilise, not cull, nilgais

State government plans to sterilise 5,000 nilgais in 2022, says Bihar forest minister 

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Tuesday 28 December 2021
State government plans to sterilise 5,000 nilgais in 2022, says Bihar forest minister. Photo: iStock

The Bihar government will not cull the Blue Bull, locally known as the nilgai or ghurparas, anymore. It will, instead, sterilise them to control their increasing population in the state.

State’s farmers have been complaining of nilgais damaging standing crop.

The state forest department officials on December 26, 2021, caught six nilgais from the premises of Bihta Airport Station near Patna and sterilised them. They were taken to Valmiki Tiger Reserve in the state’s West Champaran district after nod by Neeraj Kumar Singh, Bihar’s forest minister.

The forest department has chalked out a plan to sterilise the nilgais instead of culling them to control their population in view of repeated demand by farmers to save their crops, Singh told Down to Earth.

He added that the state government will sterilise 5,000 nilgais in 2022. “All district forest officers have been asked to do so in their respective jurisdiction. Sterlising Nilgais is easier and eco-friendly. This will not harm them and provide much-needed relief to farmers,” he said.  

The state had ordered the culling of nilgais five years ago on farmers’ demands. Nearly 4,729 nilgais were culled from 2016-2019, according to data by the forest department.

The government then hired a professional shooter from Hyderabad to cull nilgais.  The step was the result of a December 1, 2015, notification by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) that declared the nilgai and wild boar vermin in some districts of Bihar.

But the culling of nilgais was criticised by animal rights activists. The then Union Minister Maneka Gandhi also questioned the move.

A senior forest official said the department has decided to identify places in one dozen districts to catch nilgai and sterilise them, following which they would be pushed to different forest areas.

Farmers in flood-prone north Bihar districts to drought-prone south Bihar districts have been troubled with nilgais, which regularly forage into farmland in search of food and damage crops.

Farmers Baban Mahto and Ramji Singh Buxar districts said the animal has been destroying their wheat, mustard, seed and potato crops since early December.

Their numbers have increased in the last two-three years, they added.

Surajdeo Yadav and Mohsin Ali, farmers in the Vaishali district, said they have stopped cultivating vegetables in their fertile land due to the terror of nilgai.

“Our hard labour and investment for agriculture have been repeatedly ruined by nilgai. We are disappointed with the government’s failure to control their population. So we have decided to lease our land.”

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