Kerala

The question of the wild pig

Wild pigs pose big threat to farmers.

Wild pigs pose big threat to farmers.   | Photo Credit: Lejukamal;Lejukamal

Wild pigs are proliferating across the midlands in Kerala, raiding crops, attacking humans and posing a threat to farmers.

Multiplying fast, the omnivorous animal is steadily spreading from forest fringes to inhabited areas, opening new fronts in the conflict with humans. Farmers use cable wire, neem cake, barbed wire, bamboo fencing, fish net and firecrackers but are still losing the war on the porcine menace.

Wildlife experts recommend selective culling to control the burgeoning population of the wild pig. The government has announced moves to declare the animal as vermin to allow culling. Earlier this week, Forest Minister K. Raju told the Assembly that efforts were on to assess the magnitude of the threat posed by wild pigs in the State.

Thiruvambady MLA George M. Thomas, who raised the issue in the House, said 22 farmers had so far been killed by the crop-raiding animals.

He sought steps to control the proliferation of wild pigs and compensate farmers for the crop loss.

Killing of wild pigs in Kerala is currently illegal and punishable by law. Farmers feel that plantations owned by absentee landlords are providing an undisturbed habitat for wild pigs to migrate from forest fringes and establish themselves.

Second place

Studies conducted by the Kerala Forest Research Institute have revealed that wild pigs are second only to elephants in causing damage to crops. A survey in Thrissur district found that wild pigs decimated crops worth ₹3736 per hectare every year.

A nocturnal feeder, the wild pig mostly raids plantains, fallen coconuts and tubers including tapioca, colocasia and elephant yam. It also digs up turmeric and ginger plants and paddy fields to feed on grubs.

Another study found that the wild pig menace was rampant in all the forest ranges in Malappuram district. Human-wild pig encounters were reported from 10 localities. The damage caused by wild pigs in Malappuram was estimated at ₹15,000 per hectare every year.

The study by E.A. Jayson, Senior Principal Scientist, KFRI, reported 10 cases of human casualties by wild pigs in the district. One case of wild pig rabies was also reported from Pathippara.

According to Dr. Jayson, wild pigs can act as an agent for zoonotic diseases. He feels that the magnitude of the wild pig menace warrants immediate measures to check their proliferation outside forest areas.

Experts call for flexible conditions to permit culling of wild pigs in heavily infested areas.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 7:09:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/the-question-of-the-wild-pig/article23404076.ece

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