Rajasthan Forest Department has categorically stated that killing or injuring bats would be punished as per the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act. This comes after the incident of killing a large number of bats in Rajgarh of Churu district. The incident sparked off due to fear of coronavirus which is claimed to have been spread from bats.
This took place in the LIC office of Rajgarh where people saw several bats in the parking area when they returned to work when relaxations were announced amid Lockdown 3.0. The local administration advised them to wait for a day or two to let them fly away. But in the evening residents from surrounding areas lit a fire and the smoke caused the bats to fall down, they then attacked them grievously. Some were reportedly killed. The forest department took charge of the bats and released them in the forest areas.
The Chief Wildlife Warden Rajasthan, Arindam Tomar, then issued a strict advisory that harming bats is a punishable offence. It stated that there is no research to prove that coronavirus has been caused by bats while it is a proven fact that bats play a positive role in nature by facilitating pollination and seed dispersal. It went on to say that action will be taken against those killing or trying to disperse bats from their habitat.
Confirming the same to The Free Press Journal, GV Reddy, head of forest forces (HOFF) said, “An incident was reported from Churu as people linked bats to coronavirus and there is a possibility of recurrence at other places as people are unaware of facts. Similar incidents were reported from Karnataka also. All animals including humans are carriers of various viruses and are called vectors. Killing bats enhances the possibility of some other outbreak.”
“Bats fall under the category of Schedule 4 animals and there are several species that are quite rare. Harming them is a punishable offence Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. We have issued an advisory that causing any type of harm to them would attract penal provisions,” added Reddy.
It needs to be mentioned that there are around 128 species of bats found in India and out of these as many as 25 are found in Rajasthan.