Environment Minister opposes arming farmers to fight crop damage caused by wild animals

.. wants more humane methods like controlling their breeding

By Ifham Nizam

Arming farmers is not a solution to the problem of crop damage caused by various animals, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera says.

Amaraweera says he strongly believes that prior to making such decisions, relevant institutions should conduct a proper study on the latest scientific and traditional methods of warding off animals that damage crops.

“It has been revealed that about 40 percent of the crops grown by farmers in our country are destroyed annually by wild animals such as monkeys, peacocks, wild boar and Rock Squirrels and porcupines.”

Answering queries, the minister said that even though farmers had requested air rifles or shotguns, he had not complied with their request.

The minister said methods that could reduce their breeding rather than killing wildlife and new technologies that could and should be used by way of a solution.

An electrical device introduced in Kahathewela, Bandarawela to chase away wild animals has been a success. The use of the machine had helped minimise crop damage. The government should provide firearms to farmers only if the relevant farmers had cultivated more than one hectare.

The issuance of firearms should be done strictly on the recommendation of the Grama Niladharis, Divisional Secretaries and District Secretaries. They should also regulate the manner in which the weapons were used. No one should be allowed to kill innocent animals just because they were given a weapon, the Minister said .

“However, I do not think this method is a solution. The extinction of predators is the reason for the increase in the population of some animals, coupled with relentless deforestation, land grabbing, and destruction of animal habitats by humans. Therefore, the officials of the relevant institutions should try out new …read more

Source:: The Island