Wild boars resurface in Kashmir valley after almost 30 years
Wild boars, which are not native to Kashmir and had not been seen since the mid-1980s, have been sighted increasingly in the past few years in the valley causing concern among the local population and wildlife experts.
Conservationists and officials conclude that the population of the wild boars has increased based on the increased sightings of the wild animal in central and north Kashmir since 2018.
They say that the wild pigs have been sighted in many areas of north Kashmir, including Uri, Lachipora, Limber, Rafiabad, Rajwar and Balpur. The animal has also been found wandering in Dachigam National Park and its adjoining orchard and crop areas in summer capital Srinagar.
“They were not sighted commonly in the field but now everybody is informing us about their presence. They are scavengers and are foraging in wild spaces,” said wildlife warden north Kashmir, Mohammad Maqbool Baba.
Baba said that they have not yet conducted any census of the animal, which is a prolific breeder and is omnivorous. “There would be a maximum of 100 such animals in north Kashmir,” he said.
The increased presence of the animal has caused panic among people, particularly farmers. The animal is also not accepted culturally in the Muslim majority region.
“We have very less staff and it is not possible to watch every place. Still our teams tried to scatter them. Government should think something over the issue,” said Baba.
Wild boars are not native to Kashmir and are believed to be introduced by Maharaja Gulab Singh for game hunting.
Intisar Suhail, wildlife warden of Shopian who has co authored a publication on wild boars, said that the species was introduced by the Maharaja some 100 years ago for his game.
“Historically wild boars were found in Dachigam and the reserves around it. Since it was non-native its population slowly declined due to the cold weather. They had not been sighted for many years. It has revived recently,” he said.
Suhail said that the reason for its revival may be multi-factor. “Climate change can be one of the factors. We have been witnessing warm temperatures for the past few years,” he said.
In north Kashmir, he said that the reason may be owing to the increase in population of wild boars in Pakistan occupied Kashmir forests adjoining the Line of Control.
“Researchers from across the LoC say that in the past 10 years there has been an increase in its population. So it would have spilled over into north Kashmir also,” he said.
The wildlife researchers said that the animal was last seen in Dachigam in the 1980s and they are now fearful of the negative impact of the animal’s recurrence on the local ecosystem.
“From 2007 to 2011 we did extensive camera trappings in Dachigam but did not sight the animal even once during the period. The sightings of the animal have been made in the past few years. We have not assessed their numbers but there is a population in Dachigam which comes out into orchards and there are also crop raidings,” said Dr Samina Amin Charoo, research officer wildlife department.
“It is an invasive species and a prolific breeder. And universally it is a fact that when an invasive species comes it becomes dominant on the native species. It will obviously have a negative effect on the ecosystem,” she said.
The wildlife department is formulating a management action plan for all protected areas. “We will also look into the problem to know its population and its effects,” she said.