Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Forest Department is actively considering a proposal to give rubber bullets to farmers so as to chase away wild animals on their own. This desperate move is considered as human-animal conflict has become acute with 64 people killed so far this year across the state in attacks by wild animals.
Though the death toll arrived at by various farmers' organisations is 64, the Forest Department officially pegs the loss of life at 52. The Forest Department has also prepared separate lists, detailing the number of human deaths caused by each of the major wild animals.
Meanwhile, the State Government is also pressing the Central Government to designate wild boars as vermins, so as to enable farmers to kill the wild boars that attack human beings and cause large-scale destruction to crops. Elephants claimed most lives
Most human deaths were caused due to the attacks of elephants. About 25 deaths happened due to attacks by elephants and 22 due to snakebite. The deaths due to attacks of wild boars and bison also find a place in the list. A peacock was behind the death of youth after it hit a moving two-wheeler on a road.
Most of the attacks from wild animals were reported from the districts of Thrissur, Wayanad, Palakkad, Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram.
The deaths due to snakebite were mostly reported from the Palakkad district. Overall 192 deaths were reported in the last 10 years from Palakkad district. About 85 persons died due to snakebite in Kannur, 79 in Malappuram and 51 in Alappuzha.
A total of 1,310 deaths due to attacks of wild animals have been reported from Kerala since 2008. Of the total deaths, 729 deaths happened due to snakebite. About 4,397 persons were injured in such attacks.
The number of applications received by the Forest Department for granting compensation has increased with the corresponding increase in the number of attacks by wild animals. In 2009, the Forest Department received 2,922 applications. But this year, the application received as of now is 10,095.
The attack of wild animals has increased even after the Forest Department started taking action. The increase in the figures shows that the steps taken by the Forest Department such as setting up trenches and fencing have not become that effective.
Forest Minister Saseendran to meet central counterpart
Kerala Forest Minister A K Saseendran will call on Union Forest Minister Bhupendra Yadav with the request that wild boars, which are a real threat to the lives of human beings and their farming activities, be listed as "vermin" for a year. Saseendran has decided to meet the Union Forest Minister as there has been no response from the Centre till now over the letters sent by the State seeking listing of wild boars as vermins.
State Forest Principal Secretary Rajesh Kumar Sinha and Forest Department Head and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests P K Kesavan would be present during Saseendran's meeting with the Union minister.
Once wild boars are listed as vermin, anyone can kill and use its meat without the permission of the Forest Department. Then, there is no need for permission from the Forest Department for burying the carcass of wild boars. As of now, only crows, bats, mice and rodents have found a place in the list of vermin notified for Kerala.
The minister would also convey to the union minister the concerns of people's representatives over the increasing instances of human-animal conflicts in the State. Saseendran also would seek more funds for forest projects in the State.
During talks with the Forest Minister farmers of Wayanad and Palakkad asked for rubber bullets to drive away wild animals.