Forest Minister K. Raju told the Assembly on Wednesday that the government would soon permit farmers with licensed firearms to shoot wild boars that wander into their lands.
Replying to a calling attention motion by Kerala Congress (M) legislator P. J. Joseph, Mr. Raju said a committee of wildlife experts categorised wild boars as vermin in 2018. The government will finalise the modalities of using legal firearms against marauding sounders to insulate farmers from any legal jeopardy.
Wildlife conservationists have resisted the proposal on the ground that it might open the door for unchecked poaching and spawn a black market for wild meat.
A farmer’s tale
Mr. Joseph narrated the tale of a farmer in Idukki who was forced go underground to escape arrest and incarceration under the Wildlife Act after some people reported to the Forest Department that they had seen the carcass of a king cobra in his compound. Mr. Joseph, himself a successful farmer, said farmers often found themselves in conflict with wildlife and consequently the law.
He said marauding sounders destroyed crops more than wild elephants.
He asked the government to sanction wild boar hunting and suggested that its meat, tusks and hide be used to make value-added products.
Mr. Joseph also asked the Forest Department to dig well-replenished watering holes deep inside forests and provide enough feed to pre-empt wild animals from foraying into habitation centres during summer. Piecemeal fencing of forests land had disrupted traditional animal pathways.
A seemingly lost elephant and its calf were terrorising his constituents, Mr. Joseph said.
Mr. Raju said the government would build a network of trenches, solar and rope fences, and animal crash guards to separate forests from habitation centres. It has also embarked on a programme to rehabilitate families who dwell on the forest fringes.
Wildlife enforcers would capture marauding elephants, tigers, wild buffaloes and leopards and radio-collar them before relocating to them into forest interiors.
They would form mobile phone groups of those dwelling near forests to detect, warn and prevent human-animal conflict.