In my childhood days, inspired by stories I have passed through that phase when one tries to create bow and arrows and catapults and fire at any living creature (apart from man). For a number of us these were passing phases to be given up the minute something more interesting arrests our imagination.
However, in the semi-urban and rural areas one often find children as well as adults using catapults. Starting from the women folk who are guarding their grains from birds to people who use it to hunt birds for the pot, catapult is used relentlessly.
In one of the shocking incidents, in April 2010, kids in Jorhat, Assam killed about 250 egrets using catapults. Though all of us got shocked due to the sheer number of birds that got killed, one should try to understand the impact of the catapult on the psyche of people.
Like the young girl and her sister in this picture, who are taught to handle the catapult which is bigger than the size of their sandals, killing small birds etc conditions their mind to killing. Graduating from killing small birds to large animals later in their life, is just a natural progression.
No laws can be effective, if culturaly the people are conditioned to defy the law. In the Wildlife Act, catapult is not defined as a weapon. Where as the definition of weapon includes “ammunition, bows and arrows, explosives, firearms, hooks, knives, nets, poison, snares, traps, and any instrument or apparatus capable of anaesthetizing, decoying, destroying, injuring or killing an animal”.
I hope my fellow conservationists, naturalists, birdwatchers, bird photographers and the general public wake up to the harm created by the catapult remaining out of the law.
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