What will be the fate of the Peacock and Gaur?
The government has been toying with the idea of declaring destructive animals as ‘Vermin’ to allow farmers a free hand in taking necessary steps to prevent crop damage.
Agriculture is the main form of livelihood for the goans, especially those natives who live in remote areas that dot the forests.
These farmers have constantly been complaining of crop damage due to wild animals like wild boar, wild buffalo ‘Gaur’, monkeys, to name a few. Elephants do sometimes cross over into habitation in search of food. This results in large scale destruction of cultivated crop, fruit trees etc.
It’s not only the wild animals that are a nuisance to the local farmers but also wild birds like peacocks. Peacocks can nowadays be seen inside habitation especially around fields where the crop is ready for harvesting. They usually live in clusters on the hilly mounds where the vegetation is thick. These birds can cause huge damage to crops as they feed on the grain.
Farmers have been submitting representations to the forest department demanding the animals notorious for damaging crops be culled.
Unfortunately, the peacock is our National Bird and the Gaur, our state animal.
“Declaring an animal as vermin is not easy. Data needs to be collected about which animals is vermin. There is a data collection procedure. A process has been started by the State Forest department about which animals are harming crops,” replied Mr Arlekar to a question in the State Assembly session in March this year, as reported by The Hindu. Criticism from political parties, civil society and environmentalists forced Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar to issue a retraction assuring that peacocks and bison will not be declared as vermin, the report stated.
The state wildlife board will meet to discuss the status of monkeys, wild boar, and gaur in Goa after the BRICS conference scheduled to take place on 15 and 16th October as stated by the deputy conservator of forests, wildlife and eco-tourism, North Goa, Anil Kumar as per a recent TOI report. Mr Kumar also mentioned that other issues like man-animal conflict, tiger reserve and eco-tourism development at Dudhsagar will be taken up at the meeting.
While monkey and wild boar are likely to be declared as vermin, the status of the state animal gaur is in limbo. Much like the peacock, the gaur has been listed as a Schedule I animal under Wildlife Protection Act.
“Gaur can never be declared as vermin because it is in Schedule I. If they pose a danger to the life of citizens or to property, then they can be shot. But, that is only after special permission from the department is granted,” said Kumar. He added that “until then, the gaur in question will either have to be relocated, tranquillized or efforts will have to be made by farmers to set up solar fencing. “Wherever solar fencing has been erected, crop damage has been contained to a great level,” Kumar said. (as per a TOI report).