COIMBATORE: In an attempt to prevent wild elephants from entering agricultural fields, farmers in Coimbatore district are seeking gun license from the district administration, so that they could chase the animals away using rubber bullets. They are also seeking permission from the officials to kill wild boars that damage their fields. However, forest officials are not keen on conceding to both demands, saying their main focus is to prevent invasion of wild animals into residential areas.
Coimbatore district collector Archana Patnaik conducted a meeting to discuss the man-animal conflict in the district with forest officials and farmers at the collectorate on Thursday. P Kandasamy, general secretary of Vivasayigal Sangam (non-political) said that the union government should amend the Wild Life Protection Act.
"Kumki elephants and search lights have been used to chase away wild elephants when they intruded into agriculture fields and villages. The forest department dug elephant proof trenches (EPT) to curb the entry of wild elephants into residential areas. But the EPT system has failed," said Kandasamy.
"The Kerala government has approved the killing of wild boars that damaged agricultural fields, provided they follow certain guidelines. Why can't Tamil Nadu farmers have the same privilege? We requested the district administration to supply rubber bullets to chase away the elephants," said Valukkuparai Balu alias Balasubramaniam, president of Vivasayigal Sangam.
The farmers said that the forest department gives Rs 25,000 as compensation for crop damage caused by wild animals. But compensation should be given based on the evaluation of crop loss by field officers.
District forest officer M Senthil Kumar, Coimbatore division, said that during the migration season, elephants entered agricultural fields. But the forest department staff has taken several steps to chase the elephants back into the reserve forests. "Wild animals should not be tortured by anyone. Besides, if we torture them, they could become ferocious," he said.
Collector Archana Patnaik said that the summery of the meeting would be sent to the state government. Meanwhile, the district administration is considering the provision of search lights to the farmers. But some of them are policy matters which the government needs to approve.