Kerala’s Human-wildlife Conflict Crisis and Demands for Legal Reforms

Kerala has witnessed a steady rise in dangerous human-wildlife interactions in recent years. Attacks from elephants, tigers, leopards, bison, and especially wild boars have posed an increasing threat to human life. Government data showed 8,873 wild animal attack incidents in 2022-23 alone, resulting in 98 human deaths. Crop and livestock losses due to wildlife raids have also been extensive.

Impact of wild boar menace

Wild boars have become notorious for devastating farmlands and entering rural settlements. Their raids into fields and human habitations have caused great agricultural losses as well as some human casualties. Attempts by local bodies to cull wild boars through licensed civilian shooters provided little respite.

Demands to amend wildlife protection laws

To address this crisis, Kerala has demanded amendments to India’s central Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 whereby, it wants powers currently vested in state Chief Wildlife Wardens for hunting/culling dangerous wild animals to be decentralized to regional Chief Conservators of Forests for faster decision-making. Kerala also reiterated its demand for wild boars to be declared as “vermin” for a period, which would remove legal protections and allow civilians to kill crop-raiding and habitat-invading boars without needing forest department permissions.

Rationale behind legal reform demands

Kerala believes such amendments are essential to enable authorities and citizens to urgently deal with dangerously problematic animals like wild boars. Decentralizing culling powers to regional forest officers would facilitate quicker and contextual responses to specific animal threats instead of a centralized one-size-fits-all approach. And designating boars as vermin would empower people to tackle the species’ extensive habitat invasions and agricultural destruction.


However, some conservationists argue that liberalizing wildlife culling laws may have unintended ecological consequences. Indiscriminate civilian boar hunting could disrupt local ecosystems and food chains. They advocate non-lethal mitigation measures like solar-powered fences, change in crop patterns, and wildlife vaccination programs. There are also concerns that decentralized culling powers may promote ad hoc decisions instead of an integrated policy approach.

The way forward

Ultimately a balanced solution that protects endangered wildlife but also addresses legitimate human interests like life and livelihood may be optimal. Community participation in human-wildlife mitigation under forest department supervision could be a potential middle path. Addressing factors behind wildlife habitat contraction like deforestation may also help ease such conflicts sustainably. The on-ground situation in Kerala warrants urgent action but through ethical, scientifically informed means.


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