Kerala local bodies to get powers to cull wild boars

Kerala local bodies to get powers to cull wild boars

While executing the job, a forest official should be present and carcass should be sent to post-mortem immediately and buried under his supervision.

The Kerala government in India on Wednesday decided to empower local body heads to take decision on killing wild boars that are harmful to human lives and their habitat by nominating them as honorary wildlife wardens. The move comes following repeated rejections by the central government of the state’s appeal to declare wild boars as vermin.

But the government has laid out strict provisions to check misuse of the permission. According to the new provision, panchayat president and secretary can issue the permission to kill boars and employ a licensed gun man or police to carry out the job.

While executing the job, a forest official should be present and carcass should be sent to post-mortem immediately and buried under his supervision.

“This is a long pending demand of the farmers. In some places, situation is so acute and many stopped farming. We will give special powers to local body heads and entrust them with some powers of the chief wildlife warden. We will also check its misuse,” said forest minister AK Saseendran. “We will prepare a detailed guideline and procedure. We will enforce it foolproof,” he said.

“We will form a protection group involving local self-government institutions, forest personnel, MGREGA workers and others to check wild animals invading human settlements and destruct crops,” he said. The government will formulate a new law in this regard. He said local body heads will be made honorary wildlife wardens in affected areas.

Currently, the system is very time-consuming, said farmers. They said forest officials will have to be apprised of the dangerous situation and seek permission from them. Since offices are far, farmers said delay in permission leads to serious crop damage at many places.

“Most of the farmers have stopped cultivation due to wild boar attack. Not only tubers but climbers also were affected. If situation goes like this, there will be a shortage of tuber cultivation such as tapioca, arrow root, ginger and yam in the state,” said P Velayudhan, a farmer in Wayanad.

According to the Kerala Independent Farmers’ Association (KIFA), at least 24 people died in last two years in the state in boar attack. Many two-wheeler travellers hit boars in night and end up losing their lives. Farmers said if piglets are there in the pack usually mother boars charge at passing vehicles causing accidents.

“The government’s move is only half-baked. It gives more importance to boars than human beings. We need a concrete plan to check the menace,” KIFA said in a statement.

According to the 2011 enumeration of the forest department, wild boar population in the state is 48,043 but farmers said their numbers have increased at least three times in recent years.

In a bid curb the menace, the forest department introduced a plan to catch them and release them in the wild so as to check the dwindling prey-predator ratio in major forests. But officials said it was not that fruitful and involved enough expenses.

But animal lovers and wildlife experts fear misuse of the provision. They said mindless killing will affect the number of wild boars.

The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), an apex body of animal rights outfits, opposed the state’s repeated pleas to the Centre to declare wild boars as vermin.

“We strongly condemn the move of the Kerala government to authorise local bodies to hunt wild boars. The government needs to proceed scientifically and rationally and not to take arbitrary measures,” said Bharati Ramachandran, CEO of FIAOP.

Wildlife biologist VS Vijayan said: “Culling is not a solution. We can adopt many measures to check their intrusion into human habitat.” Such powers will lead to indiscriminate killings, he said.

Wildlife expert PS Esa said: “We need a healthy balance of wild population but at the same time we have to ensure that their numbers would not shoot up. If local bodies use this power judiciously, we can check boar incursions to an extent.” He said in states like Telangana sarpanches were given such powers.

Of late, desperate farmers are using many illegal methods to scare wild boars often endangering lives of human beings. Last week, two policemen lost their lives in Palakkad after they touched electric traps meant to scare wild boars and the death of a pregnant wild elephant after tasting a pineapple laced with explosives in the same district triggered countrywide protest two years ago.

Kerala local bodies to get powers to cull wild boars