Moves to protect wild animals while preventing crop damageView(s):
- Farmers Association chief calls for enrichment of forest areas so animals will stay and look for food there
By Kasun Warakapitiya
Amid a growing dispute involving wildlife conservation, the cultivation rights and lives of people, the Presidential Secretariat called a meeting between the Wildlife and Agriculture Ministries on Tuesday, to discuss agricultural damage caused by wild animals.
This came in the wake of a stakeholder consultation regarding the management of crop damage caused by wild animals.
Prof. Buddhi Marambe, who moderated the stakeholder consultation held on December 29, last year, said he was currently compiling a report based on the discussions held. The consultation was organised by the Agriculture and Forest Conservation Ministry.
Animal rights activists, environmentalists, officials of the wildlife, forest conservation and agriculture ministries and departments, experts and other stakeholders, came to a conclusion that wildlife damage to agriculture was serious and remedies were required, considering the carrying capacities of ecosystems.
The Agriculture Ministry was calling for more expert views on mechanisms to control wild animals from destroying crops. A senior ministry official said they were currently having discussions with stakeholders whether to maintain carrying capacities of wild animals in ecosystems with natural mechanisms or by human intervention.
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said they had learned there was a rise in the numbers of crop damaging wild animals such as peacocks, wild boars, monkeys, grizzled giant squirrels and porcupines and they should be controlled.
“We are not in a hurry to take action to control crop damage caused by wild animals. However we are calling on experts, farmers and the people to suggest ways to reduce crop damages by looking after the animals also,” he said.
The Minister denied that he claimed that crop damages occurred due to increasing animal numbers, and therefore they needed to be controlled.
All Island Farmers Federation (AIFF) National Organiser Namal Karunaratne said farmers did not call for controlling animal numbers, but to enrich the ecosystems so that animals would look for food within forest areas.
He said tanks within wildlife parks should be repaired, while invasive plants should be replaced with edible plants so animals would remain in forest areas.
A Wildlife Conservation Department senior official said their role was to manage ecosystems. He said in foreign countries wildlife authorities manage animal numbers by culling them, yet they had not yet engaged in such moves.
The official said they had taken measures to control the birth of some animal species such as monkeys.
Biodiversity Conservation Research Circle Convener Supun Lahiru Prakash said the authorities should conduct a survey and find the reasons for animals damaging cultivated crops.
He said habitat destruction and other issues faced by animals, and data on animal numbers, should be taken into account before claiming animal numbers were increasing. Making such claims could encourage people to cull animals, and that could lead to the extinction of certain animal species.
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