Thoughtlessly constructed and idiotically placed dustbins in a tiger reserve can turn a well-intended sanitation initiative into a howling travesty. How do you keep wild boar from scattering the trash you’ve conscientiously thrown away?
It was a beautiful afternoon in Bandipur. The sun was tucked into the skirt-folds of dark, purple-rimmed clouds and so many busloads of busy tourists had made sure to fill up the dustbins (and places within 500 metres of them) with all kinds of interesting garbage. There were fruit peels, corn cobs, half-eaten takeaways, packets of crisps with neglectfully wasted leftovers, et cetera. To perform a complete inventory, you needed to stick your head into the dump and rummage hard. Only a creature with a snout deserving of this luxury could get to the bottom of this mysterious treasure trove.
Along came a pig. Not any ordinary pig. This, a large female wild boar (Sus scrofa cristatus) fattened habitually on human excess, sauntered by, snorted and regarded the dustbin with greedy curiosity, snivelling all over it. Its object of interest was a large, deep bucket of concrete, larger and heavier than itself, and made even more so, encumbered as it was with aromatic treasures.
As Arun and I watched, the pig sniffed around, tried to knock over the bin, and then gave up. Then the sow walked a short distance away and charged at the dustbin — her belly-girdle of teats a-swinging — and knocked it over. Satisfied with her effort, she tucked into the buffet that was now spread at her feet. Talk of pearls before swine!
A younger male sashayed over, eager to gate-crash her party. He tucked his snout into the lopsided bin, but the sow would have none of it. She grunted sharply and nudged him — a little too hard for comfort. The aspiring usurper, whose relationship with her we could not quite fathom, crouched submissively and let her continue feeding.
She munched away, undisturbed, while the other pig remained in position until the dustbin’s original claimant had eaten her fill. Then, without ado, the sow walked away, leaving the bin to the younger pig.
And that’s when we looked up and saw the sign.
Okay, we get the message.
So, how does one get wild boar to stop the annoying habit of scattering the litter that we have so conscientiously disposed of in dustbins? Simple: make the bins taller, of course, as the thoughtful officials at Parambikulam have done.
Don’t let their pitiable deprived expressions melt your heart — or your resolve to dispose of garbage responsibly. Dustbins in a forest are for humans, not for wild boar.
Text and photos: Beej