While India is currently in the thick of things regarding securing vaccines against COVID-19, a new complication has arisen in many of its states — a bird flu epidemic that has taken the lives of many of our local and migratory feathered friends.
Avian influenza, the dreaded virus responsible for the spread of bird flu, has killed nearly 1700 ducks in the districts of Alappuzha and Kottayam in Kerala, 2400 migratory waterbirds in Himachal Pradesh, 250 crows in Rajasthan and almost 400 crows in Madhya Pradesh.
With the fear of this lethal disease spreading far and wide, Kerala’s authorities have decided to cull nearly 48,000 birds within a 1 km radius of the infected area to contain the virus.
In this case, culling will be done from the perspective of preventing further spread of the disease. However, the questions that come into play now are whether culling thousands of birds is ethical and whether it dramatically impacts our ecosystem’s delicate balance.
The Big Debate On Culling
Now, one may think: surely a practice as brutal as killing thousands of birds all at once comes at a considerable cost to the environment.
Truth be told, authorised culling has remained the most preferred method of controlling a virus outbreak for several years now. The reason being that it is a far more time-efficient process than securing vaccinations for thousands of birds within the infected perimeter.
But this does not disregard the fact that it would be more logical to cull in one village or area and proceed with further culling only after evidence of a continued spread of the virus is secured.
Research also provides other alternatives that seem to bear fewer costs such as confining the poultry in their shelters until the animals are no longer likely to catch the disease. However, although this practice focuses on cutting back on losses to the farmers, it may prolong the epidemic.
Culling does not take place only on the occasion of a virus outbreak. It even comes into the picture when there is an overabundance of a species in an area.
Animal Rights Activists VS Wildlife Conservationists
In the battle between those for and against the practice, animal rights activists and wildlife conservationists often stand on opposite sides of the spectrum. However, they are ultimately rooting for the same cause.
Animal rights activists mainly think of such killings as morally wrong as they believe that each animal deserves to be in control of their life. On the other hand, wildlife conservationists view culling as a practice that restores a sense of balance in an overpopulated habitat.
For instance, if there was an abundance of a particular bird species in an area, they could pose threats by transferring certain diseases to humans and other animals or disrupt the normal day-to-day functioning of the habitat.
Wildlife conservationists would deem culling necessary in such a case to sustain the biodiversity of the territory.
In the end, it is agreed by all parties involved that culling should be a well-thought-out and rational decision. It must be undertaken in the most humane way possible, only after taking into consideration as many alternatives as possible.
Image Credits: Google Images
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