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19 Nov 2019, Edition - 1589, Tuesday

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Coimbatore

Culling of wild boars to save farmlands can affect ecological balance

Sneha L

Farming is no easy task and issues crop up more when it is done on forest fringes.

My mother grew up in a family engaged in agriculture down south in Nagercoil. Apart from paddy, my grandfather cultivated rubber, banana and coconut. So, family meetings would finally end up in discussions about keeping guard of the crop which was tougher then with no electricity or technology.

Everyone had their own stories of bravery and adventure about the cultivation. The hazards of farming and the encounters with wildlife finally have over the last 15 years seen discarded farmlands and several people shifting to urban lifestyle.

Knowing the uphill tasks of farmers, the government passed an order last month permitting the forest rangers to shoot wild boars which destroy crops in the districts of Coimbatore, Tiruvannamalai, Madurai, Tiruppattur, Vellore, Hosur and Erode. The culling will take place on a request from farmers.

Asked about the status of the order to cull wild boars, Sirumugai forest ranger E N Manoharan told The CovaiPost: “Yes, we have received the order and many instructions were also issued along with it. But, it is not carried out here yet.”

Another forest official who insisted on anonymity said: “The culling of wild boars is not being carried out here for two reasons. One is that we are yet to receive the guidelines from the department because it is a matter of wildlife and it cannot be taken easily. It is our duty to ensure that wild boars in forest space are not harmed. If anything goes wrong people with wrong intentions will take advantage of this and start hunting wild boars.

“The second reason is that we have not received any petitions from the farmers yet. Firstly, the districts in which the order was to be implemented are getting ready for a demonstration. Once the demonstration goes fine, culling will begin.”

The order was supposed to be implemented from July.

“Yes, the farmers would like to get the wild boars destroying crops culled. Farmers have not submitted petitions because they are not aware of the forest department order. But, personally I do not approve of shooting the animal. Wild boars do help in enriching the soil,” said Palaniswamy S, president of the Tamil Nadu Farmers Association in Coimbatore district.

This brings up issues of how culling could affect ecological balance. ” An old woman from a village explained this in a very simple way. There was a jackfruit tree in her compound that gave tasty fruits. The ones on the very top were eaten by monkeys. Those within the reach of elephants were taken away by them. Those within the reach of people in the house were for them.

Earlier, warding off wild animals from farms was a collective activity involving youngsters and it was done by making noise and driving the animals away. But now with fewer people and the youth taking to other jobs, the collective effort is lost, We must also know that peacocks and wild boars can be chased away easily. What must be highlighted is that the change in attitude of the farmers nowadays,” points out biologist Mohan Kumar D.

Urbanisation has created a distance among the public because of which the collective mentality of the farmers has changed, he adds.

“Every species of animals and plants play an important role in maintaining forest equilibrium. Tigers, leopards and dholes prey on wild boars. Culling of wild boars will create a shortage of prey animals in the forests. Consequently, leopards or tigers will start roaming in residential areas,” says Satheesh Muthu Gopal in his blog (http://ivansatheesh.blogspot.in/2017/07/blog-post.html).

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