Wild boar boom bittersweet for villagers in Anhui Province

Wu Yongtian, a farmer in east China's Anhui Province, has installed several loudspeakers around his farmland that play humans talking, dogs barking and sounds of gongs and drums, in the hope of keeping wild boars at bay.

File Photo: a wild boar was captured by infrared camera in Shannxi Province, China. /VCG Photo

File Photo: a wild boar was captured by infrared camera in Shannxi Province, China. /VCG Photo

The wild boar was once common in the Dabie Mountains. However, due to increases in hunting and human encroachment on its habitat, its population plummeted in the past decade.

Wu from Qianping Village in Jinzhai County hadn't clashed with the beast's fierce tusks for a long time.

The Dabie Mountains stretch across the eastern and central Chinese provinces of Anhui, Hubei and Henan, and are home to various rare plants and animals.

As an important source of fire and income, felling trees was a common practice among local villagers.

"We depended heavily on the forest. But as trees dwindled, wild boars were getting harder to spot," Wu said.

As China's urbanization picked up steam, more people left the mountains and moved to live in cities. Vegetation recovered as no more logging was needed, and habitats were restored as human interference reduced.

Wild boars have once again become familiar neighbors of local residents.

At least 100 wild boars are estimated to dwell within the 660 hectares around Qianping Village, said Bu Yongquan, former Party secretary of the village.

"Villagers from almost every household spotted wild boars coming down from the mountains," he said.

The policy of conceding farmland to forestry, and a rising awareness of animal protection have also contributed to the growing population of the state protected animal, according to Tao Hongjun, head of Mazongling forest farm.

However, the rising boar population has strained the relationship with local farmers.

"They (wild boars) feed on only the best. The valuable herbs such as gastrodia elata and American ginseng that farmers grow are their favorite," said Wu.

Reports of wild boar attacks and highway accidents caused by the intruding animal have hit headlines with increasing frequency.

Besides loudspeakers, local farmers have tried firecrackers, scarecrows, kerosene and even human hair to ward off the boars, to little effect.

"Sometimes the loudspeakers even attracted them to come near," Wu said.

To settle the issue, local governments in the Dabie Mountains have come up with measures including organized hunting to scare them off and eco-compensation to make up for farmers' lost income.

"I believe humans and wild boars will again live in harmony someday," Wu said. 

(Cover image via Xinhua.)

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