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Friday, June 3, 2016

why culling wild boars is humane ?? - what is vermin

Marine Insurance has evolved over the years, driven by circumstances, experiences and case laws.  Marine Insurance Act 1963 under Sec 55 -  Included and excluded losses has this interesting exclusion. :  Sec 55 (2) [C] -  unless the policy otherwise provides, the insurer is not liable for ordinary wear and tear, ordinary leakage and breakage, inherent vice or nature of the subject-matter insured, or for any loss proximately caused by rats or vermin, or for any injury to machinery not proximately caused by maritime perils.

      The wild boar (Sus scrofa), also known as the wild swine or Eurasian wild pig is native to much of Eurasia, North Africa, and the Greater Sunda Islands. Human intervention has spread its range further, making the species one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world, as well as the most widely spread suiform. The species lives in matriarchal societies consisting of interrelated females and their young (both male and female). Fully grown males are usually solitary outside of the breeding season.  In US, the pigs were reportedly first introduced in the 1500’s by Spanish Explorer, Hernando DeSoto. In the centuries following European exploration and colonization of the eastern U.S., free-range livestock management practices and escapes from enclosures resulted in the establishment of wild pig populations and promoted their spread. 

Back home, they are a menace too and today’s TOI carries an article titled ‘ why culling of wild boars is humane’ ! ~ an article by a  retired principal chief conservator of forests.

Some may feel that the implementation of Operation Wild Boar, wherein foresters will be allowed restricted culling of the animal, is too harsh on wildlife, but in the long run this idea will help in keeping the ecological balance of a region. The recent Madras high court judgment allowing for shooting of wild boars is an attempt to resolve the conflict between wildlife and humans.

The problem of wild boars destroying crops like banana, coconut, groundnut, maize and tapioca has been a recurrent issue and earlier attempts to control it by paying compensation for the losses, tranquilisation and translocation, setting up of energised fences and building trenches have not had the desired result. Reducing excessive wild boar population by culling is perhaps a more realistic and pragmatic approach, but it needs to be handled with extreme care. Wildlife regulations that came into force in 1972 provide the framework for scientific culling and active wildlife management.

Forest rangers and foresters will be empowered to shoot crop-raiding wild boars for a prescribed period of time. The shooting of crop-raiding wild boars will be done under Section 11(b) of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and will be implemented soon on a pilot basis in districts like north and south Tiruvannamalai, Hosur, Tirupattur, Vellore, Coimbatore, Hassanur and Madurai forest divisions. But what is needed is careful planning on the part of the forest department. A location-specific intensive study and training of personnel to shoot the animal needs to be ensured before the process of culling begins. Later, record of each animal killed should be kept. This is essential since the idea of culling is to control the numbers and not create a deficiency of the species.

While culling may be considered the most practical way of reducing numbers of a certain species, the root cause of any man-animal conflict has been the decreasing forest cover over the years. Human encroachment for construction or farming and exploitation of forest resources have contributed to the depleting food and water sources inside the forest. Lack of food has forced wild animals to stray into agricultural lands outside the forest leading to the destruction of crops and property. The consequence of such intrusion is death on both sides, as many a farmer is killed by crop raiding elephants and gaurs and elephants are electrocuted while trying to enter human habitation. Since restoring ecological balance of forests can only be done over a period of time, the numbers of animals first needs to kept in check, so that other conservation methods can follow.

Hence the order for culling needs to be implemented under strict supervision to ensure that there is no poaching and the animals are not killed indiscriminately. Also the killing is done only in specified areas and for a limited period of time. The proper enforcement of these procedures entails trained forest personnel, in the absence of which the whole operation can fall apart. The central government has declared wild boar a vermin in Uttaranchal, but this order is for only for a period of one year, from the date of issue of notification that is February 3, 2016. After this the status of the animal in the wild will be reviewed. After Uttaranchal many are for an amendment to declare wild boars as vermin in specified localities in Tamil Nadu so that their population can be kept in check and their growth observed at least for a period of time so that the balance between man and animal can be restored again.

The culling programme may not work well since the state has limited forest personnel. TN should consider declaring wild boars vermin which would allow farmers also to shoot the marauding animals.

As stated in the article, the Union Environment Ministry had declared wild pigs as ‘vermin’ for an year in Uttarakhand. This allowed the State authorities to carry out an extermination of wild pigs on a large scale without attracting penal provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The Govt notification declared the animals to be vermin across 13 districts of Uttarakhand. Wild pigs are a protected species under Schedule III of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. But if any wild animal poses a danger to human life or property (including standing crops on any land), or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, the law allows for it to be hunted.

·    Hernando de Soto (1500 –1542) was a Spanish explorer who led the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States, and the first documented European to have crossed the Mississippi River. He is credited to having introduced wild pigs to US, which has spread rapidly. 
·         Vermin, are pests or nuisance animals, that spread diseases or destroy crops or livestock. The term derives from the Latin vermis (worm), and was originally used for the worm-like larvae of certain insects, many of which infest foodstuffs.  It is stated that there is data collection procedure and a process based on which animals / birds could be declared as ‘vermin’.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd May 2016.

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