In a unique decision of its kind, the Gauhati High Court (GHC) granted bail to one Ghanapati Das- held responsible for the death of 25 Himalayan Griffon vultures- on condition that he will plant 25 saplings and take care of it until the saplings grow big enough.
The forest department filed a case against Ghanapati Das, a resident of Kamrup (Rural) district's Panitema village, of feeding a poisoned goat carcass to the endangered species of vultures.
Das, who has followed the court orders and has planted the saplings, has been charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act. However, he has denied the charges straight away.
"I did not poison the goat nor did I deliberately leave the dead animal in open for the vultures to feed on it. Why will I kill the vultures when these don't have any market value? People do not consume vulture meat and I cannot sell them in the market as well. Hence, poisoning them is out of the question. The birds might have consumed some other carcass of some other cow or goat that are carried by the river nearby and can be found scattered by the bank," Das informed.
The carcasses of the birds have been sent to the forensic department for an in-depth analysis on the cause of death and only the final reports will reveal the truth and it will be known if Ghanapati Das is actually guilty or not.
However, the High Court's order has been welcomed by several animal rights activists and environmentalists.
"It is indeed a unique verdict and I think the honourable court has taken the right decision. People involved in feeding poisoned carcass to vultures must understand that these winged friends are natural scavengers. By feeding on the dead animals, these birds help to keep our environment clean and disease free. Hope the importance of vultures is understood by everyone," said Nabarun Das, a Guwahati-based research scholar.