By Kevin Heath
Over 300 villagers in Sansarpeta attacked a forest ranger station yesterday after a 62-year-old man was killed by a wild boar. Buildings and equipment were burned, officials attacked and forest rangers held hostage at the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Odisha.
Police were called and were able to negotiate the release of the rangers.
In the action villagers entered the forest department’s office and destroyed equipment and set fires. They also burned 2 motorboats used for patrolling and destroyed a motorcycle. Staff were attacked at the offices and some of the officials were held hostage.
The actions started after the 62-year-old man was killed by a wild boar. The local wild boar population is numbered at about 2,000 and will often enter villages and local fields looking for food as their habitat continues to reduce. The wild boar is fully protected by India’s state laws and so villagers are unable to deal with stray boars.
It is the responsibility of the forest department to deal with human-wildlife conflicts and the actions by villagers illustrate that they do not believe that the forest department is doing enough to deal with the problems.
Officials say that the family of the man will be compensated with the set 2 lakh rupees – about £2,000.
The Gahirmatha marine sanctuary was established in 1997 and covers the Gahirmatha beach – home to the world’s largest nesting site of the Olive Ridley turtle. As well as the beach the sanctuary extends inland and includes local forests and mudflats stretching out into the Bay of Bengal.