STATE

Forest dept steps up drive to kill wild pigs

Express News Service

KOCHI: The sleepless nights endured by farmers living on forest fringes will soon be a thing of the past as the  forest department has launched an intense drive to kill wild pigs destroying crops. The department has enlisted sharp shooters from rifle clubs to help shoot down the animals and farmers have welcomed the drive. As many as 50 wild pigs were killed in August alone. In 2020, the department had launched a similar drive killing 172 wild pigs, following protests from farmer outfits.

“The drive to eliminate wild pigs destroying crops is a welcome move. The animals have been destroying crops extensively and we have been urging the government to declare it as vermin. The Union government had in 2020 given permission to kill wild pigs based on recommendation from the panchayat president.

Now, only licensed persons authorised by the DFO can kill the wild boars. The government should provide gun licence to farmers and give them the  right to kill wild pigs destroying crops,” said Kerala Independent Farmers’ Association (KIFA) chairman Alex Chandy Ozhukayil.

The government had issued an order allowing killing of wild pigs in 2011. The order is is being extended every year.

“We are planning to intensify the drive for the next couple of months. The drive is being monitored by DFOs and range officers. It is the easy availability of food that attracts wild pigs to human habitations. Pigs are scavengers and indiscriminate disposal of waste in open places attract them to places far away from forest border,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden Bennichan Thomas.

Wildlife expert and Kerala Agriculture University dean P O Nameer said that easy access to food and absence of predators draw wild pigs to human habitations. “Wild pigs live in bushes and the rubber plantations in rural Kerala provide good habitat to the animal. It is the dumping of food waste by the roadside and vacant lands that attract wild pigs. The animals proliferate in the midlands and they multiply very fast,” he said.

“Culling should not be opposed as it is a scientific wildlife management tool. We have to collect data on the animal population and consider culling, if it exceeds the carrying capacity of the forest,” Nameer added. According to the government data, there were 3,941 cases of crop damage, injuries and death caused by wild pigs from 2017 to 2019. The government had disbursed `3.18 crore as compensation to farmers during the period.

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