South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Circumventing the Wild Boar: Human Entanglements with an Obligate Opportunist

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Cypress, New Building

The wild boar which is abundant in Indian forests, is even more of a ubiquitous presence in the agricultural landscapes of the forest fringe. Throughout its range, local people have perhaps spent more sleepless nights guarding fields from this species than all others combined. Enigmatic and intelligent, pigs are known to challenge farmers, hunters, and trappers in as many ways that have been devised to outwit them. This elusiveness and alacrity have not only given rise to a variety of regional hunting techniques but also to a range of cultural relationships that showcase this charismatic species in varied forms of religious and symbolic expression.


 I use several historical and contemporary vignettes to trace the diverse array of entanglements between people and pigs in India and show that the local practices and cultural attitudes that mediate relationships between people and wildlife in shared spaces can inform conservation. Involving both wild boar and domestic swine, these include a broad array of expressions including origin stories and folklore, religious iconography, propitiation and sacrificial rituals, taboos, and injunctions related to hunting and pharmacological traditions. This is followed by a brief exploration of select case studies that explore conservation conflict involving wild pigs, but the roots of which can be traced to contestations among people with differing worldviews and relationships with nature. I make a case for reconciling conflicts in shared landscapes on the basis of existing cultural frameworks and offer few ideas towards taking the discussion forward.

Meera Anna. Oomen

Dakshin Foundation, India

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2 - Circumventing the Wild Boar: Human Entanglements with an Obligate Opportunist



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