Resurgence of wild boars evokes concern in Kashmir

Research being done on their presence, impact: Chief Wildlife Warden
Resurgence of wild boars evokes concern in Kashmir
Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar, May 15: Wild Boars, which vanished from Kashmir during the mid-’80s, have once again resurfaced here and are increasingly being sighted in north Kashmir areas.

 For a long time, it was believed that the non-native species had been eliminated from Kashmir. However, the species have been sighted in and around Dachigam National Park and north Kashmir areas wandering in the fields and destroying crops.

The presence of wild boars which are non-native to Kashmir has raised concern among the locals here and made the wildlife department and experts conduct research on them to know their impact on ecology and habitat.

Wildlife officials, however, said that as of now there is no official census carried out for wild boars about their number. They said that the department will study their presence and make a management plan for them.

Experts said that the animal shares its habitat and even food with hangul, the endangered species of red deer native to Kashmir. “While the wild boars serve as prey for leopards and other wild animals, it can also impact the habitat of hangul,” they said.

According to the reports, the wild boars had been on a rampage in many parts of north Kashmir for the last several weeks, attacking paddy fields during the night and destroying the crop on hundreds of acres of land. The concerned residents said that the wild boars’ attack paddy fields during the night and destroy crops in no time. They said these animals attack in groups and more than ten wild boars are seen at the same time attacking these paddy fields.

The 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.

Senior wildlife officer of the Wildlife Department, Intisar Suhail, who has co-authored a publication on wild boars, said that the species was introduced by the Maharaja some 100 years ago. “ They had not been sighted for many years. It has revived recently,” he said. He said that the reason for its revival may be multiple.

“Climate change can be one of the factors. We have been witnessing warm temperatures for the past few years, particularly in winter,” he said.

 In north Kashmir, he said, the reason may be owing to the increase in the population of wild boars because it is located near LOC. “ Wild boars are not native to Kashmir and were first introduced in the region during the time of Maharaja Gulab Singh,” he said, adding that the “first (recorded) sighting of the wild boar after the 1980s was in 2013, after a dead pig in the Limber and Lacchipora wildlife sanctuaries of the Kajinag range in North Kashmir was spotted.”

The official told Greater Kashmir the wild boar resurgence needs to be studied thoroughly. He said that they have not yet conducted any census of the animal, “which is a prolific breeder and is omnivorous.” “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,” he said.

 Talking to Greater Kashmir Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Kumar Gupta said that the wildlife department is formulating a management action plan for all protected areas, adding that research is being done by the experts on this.

“The wild boars definitely vanished almost in Kashmir but since a few years their number has increased,” the senior Wildlife officer said. He said that the department has formed a team of researchers who will study their presence besides their impact on the ecology and habitat.

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