India Legalizes 'The Most Dangerous Game'

India has taken inspiration from Richard Connell's 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game," in an effort to aid in population control.

Full disclosure: The population the government wants to take control of is composed of tigers. And they want to control it by increasing it.

But the part about it now being legal to shoot humans—to hunt The Most Dangerous Game—that's pretty straightforward.

Officials in India's Maharashtra state have just announced that forest guards will no longer face legal repercussions for shooting poachers.

Previously, guards who fired upon poachers risked being booked for human rights violations. (While there are no records of tiger poachers having been shot at, criminals engaged in illegal logging and fishing activities have fared less well.)

Now the government has determined that injuring or even killing poachers no longer constitutes a crime, so, if you hate killing animals but love killing people, Maharashtra just might be your scene.

The Associated Press reports that the new measures are an attempt to curb "rampant attacks" on tigers and other wildlife in the state. Perhaps also to teach everyone a valuable lesson through heavy-handed symbolism.

Divyabhanusinh Chavda, head of the World Wildlife Fund in India explains that, while the law may seem harsh, the country's poaching problem has spiraled out of control.

"These poachers have lost all fear. They just go in and poach what they want because they know the risks are low."

Now the poachers will become the poached.

You would think their pelts might even be more valuable than tigers', due to the dearth of legally-obtained human corpses, but apparently the reason the big cats fetch so much on the black market is that their parts are in great demand from "traditional Chinese medicine practitioners."

Are there any traditional Chinese medicinal practices that require the use of human parts?

In addition to passing the shooting law, the government has also established a fund of 5 million rupees ($90,000) from which informants can be tipped in exchange for providing information about poachers.

Conservationists argue that poachers and rangers rarely encounter one another anyway (the former operate mostly at night) and suggest that increasing round the clock surveillance of forests would be a more worthwhile tactic than establishing a costly snitch fund.

But now that people have been given the go-ahead to let lose with the bullets, they'll probably make the most of it.

Hopefully they won't hit any tigers by mistake.

[Associated Press via NPR // Image via Shutterstock]