Wild Pigs or Wild boars are in news today because of its intrusion into villages for crop raids in the agricultural fields. It remains in the most feared animals list of farmers in the line of Elephants, Tigers, Leopards, Bears and Gaurs. Incidents of its ferocious attacks on human beings have been framed as traumatic experiences for farmers. More than the attack on humans, it is the crop loss suffered by thousands of farmers which has made it a life and life source threatening animal to the village folks.
Farmers associations in most of the Indian states want these wild boars to be culled while animal welfare agencies want them to be left as such as they are the main prey of carnivores in the jungles. Wild boars (Sus scrofa) are the most widely distributed mammal in the world.
Human-Wild Pigs Conflict (HWPC) in farm lands
Food habit: They eat anything which fits to its mouth, but 90 % of its food is found to be from plants. The males have a sharp canine which is top wards pointing tusk, which help them to dig up the earth and feed the tubers and roots by uprooting them easily. They even feed on worms, mice, lizards, snakes etc., Hence they are labelled as Omnivores.
Breeding habits: Boars are found in the jungles and villages in groups of 5’s to 30. They are called as Sounders. Young ones are called as piglets and they possess a camouflage, white stripe design on their body which disappears after three months. They hunt on their own after 6 to 7 months. Adult males are normally sent out of the sounders. They are ready for reproduction within a year and its gestation period is 114 -130 days. A single male can mate with 5 to 10 females during the breeding season, as a result it gets 20 % of its body weight drained. These nocturnal animals live up to 14 years in the wild.
As habitat loss pushes wild boars closer and closer to urban areas, encounters with humans are likely to continue increasing. So, ‘’If it is a wild boar, it’s important to remain calm and remember that, though the creature has the ability to hurt or even kill you, it is unlikely to do so. In other words, give the animal the respect and space it deserves, and there’s a good chance it will leave you alone” (*3) say conservationists. But farmers have a different version. “How can we remain passive when they destroy our agricultural crops, which are our livelihood”.
Classification: Wild boars are classified in the Least Concern category by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In India it is a Schedule III animal under the Wildlife (Protection) Act -1972. Now the farmers want these animals classified in Schedule V so that it can be treated as vermin like Crows, Mice, Fruit bats etc., The southern states of India want the Union Government to reclassify the Boars under Schedule V category so that they can be shot down with permission from the Forest Department officials of the State Governments.
Kerala has gone ahead in this juncture by designating the Municipality and Panchayat leaders as Honorary Wildlife Wardens of their area. This helps in the administrative process to cull the pigs after they are considered a menace by the people of a specific area. Yet, culling has to be done in the presence of at least a dozen of observers at a particular time and place. Feeding mother pigs should not be culled. A trained shooter is to be deployed in this culling process. The carcass of the pigs is to be burnt in front of the observation team. Since Kerala Govt finds the above process as tedious, they want these animals to be declared as Vermin’s so that the local bodies can execute their decisions easily. Now Tamil Nadu Farmers too want permission to cull the wild boars which are disturbing their cash crops – Banana, Sugar cane and almost all varieties of pulses and vegetables.
Human Deaths: Nagaraj.V of Thiruvalluvar Nagar in Thadagam Valley of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu was killed in a Human – Wild Boar conflict in May 2022 (*2). He met with a fatal accident when his motor cycle had a hit on with a Wild Boar crossing the Thadagam Road near Kanuvai. Another farmer in Karamadai range also died in a similar, freak accident in the same year.
Mitigation measures: Research suggests that fencing the borders of agricultural fields with solar powered wires, diamond wired fences will reduce the intrusion of wild boars. Even native breeds of dogs would deter these wild pigs entering into the farms (*4).
Protests: Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) organised a protest in Coimbatore on December 17, 2022 urging the Tamil Nadu Government to control the wild boars.
Farmers associations in Kerala want the State Government to enforce the High Court Judgement of July 23, 2021 (WPC: 12496) to shoot them easily).