Reemergence of wild boars near human habitations worries residents
Srinagar: The return of boars, the robust wild counterparts of the pig family, has raised serious concerns among the people residing in parts of north and central Kashmir, particularly those engaged in agricultural activities.
Residents living close to Dachigam National Park in Srinagar outskirts have reported seeing a herd of wild boars. However, officials of the Wildlife Department feigned ignorance about the animals’ covert incursion into the human settlements.
Wild boars have also been spotted by the locals living around Asia’s largest tulip garden situated on the foothills of the Zabarwan, while locals in other areas, including Lam, Brein, and Nishat, also reported seeing the animals notorious for causing large-scale harms to agriculture farms and orchards elsewhere in the world.
“I was shocked to see scores of wild boars sprinting towards the paddy fields last month while I was grazing my cows in an open field next to the Tulip Garden. I had never seen pigs in person, and had only read and heard about them; so it was rather an unsettling experience for me,” Shabir Ahmad, a local resident told ‘Kashmir Images’.
“Wild boars are cunning and strong; they can destroy entire agricultural fields and farms in no time,” Ahmad said, adding that in the US and Australia, for instance, their uncontrolled populations have become a national worry owing to the damages they cause.
“I strongly believe that their presence in our area will make farmers pay heavily, in case the authorities do not act quickly to restrain them within the woods,” he added.
A senior Wildlife official told ‘Kashmir Images’ that a large population of wild boars may also adversely impact the biodiversity of the region as their natural tendency is to dig up the soil in search of food, which can harm tree saplings and jeopardize attempts of reforestation; they would also damage people’s farms crops and orchards.
People in parts of north Kashmir are also in panic due to the return of wild boars in some areas with Wildlife officials assuring that the department will mobilize teams to know where exactly the wild boars have been spotted.
There is a feeling of fear among the inhabitants in parts of Lachipora, Balpur and Reban areas of Sopore where people have reported seeing wild boars.
“Boars were last seen in May this year, but they later disappeared. Now, they have reappeared in several areas of north Kashmir, giving the local population a sense of unease,” Taj Din, a local resident of Balpur told ‘Kashmir Images’.
He claimed that despite repeated alerts, the authorities have not been able to address the concerns that the presence of wild boars has brought for the villagers living nearby.
He said that a herd of wild boars wandering freely could be observed on the main street in Reban Sopore in the Baramulla district of north Kashmir.
Mohammad Maqbool Baba, the Wildlife Warden for north Kashmir, said the department will dispatch teams to ascertain if the wild boars had resurfaced.
“We’ll investigate the matter and send out our teams to see if the boars have returned. The least we can do is drive them into the forest area,” he added.
For precise information regarding the presence of boars in Srinagar, Chief Wildlife Warden Kashmir, Rashid Naqash, asked this reporter to speak with the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) concerned.
“How wild boars have managed to repopulate in Kashmir is a scientific question. What actually happens, the boars at times breach the barriers in the forests and infiltrate into human settlements,” Altaf Ahmad told ‘Kashmir Images’.
He said that it’s a question of study and the department needs to undertake a survey in this regard when asked if the existence of wild boars constitute a threat to the Hangul population also.
Replying to another query on whether the number of wild boars in Kashmir had grown over time, he said, “Yes, the number of wild boars in Kashmir has increased, and they are also present in the Dachigam forest.”
Regarding the measures taken by the Wildlife department to protect the people from wild boars, he said the department will definitely look into the issue and take whatever measures are needed in this regard.
“Since wild boars are also protected animals, the department is required to abide by regulations. If we sense a threat to the safety of the human population, we take preventative measures like driving them into the forests or, in an emergency, employing tranquilizers,” Altaf Ahmad added.