The lingering problem of Fulani herdsmen and other criminal elements who continued to terrorize many innocent citizens, seize and occupy people’s farmlands, destroy their farm crops, kidnap, rape, and kill people at random, has made many people begin to proffer different solutions for tackling this menace.
The Enugu State Government, in particular, had recently announced its intention to recruit forest guards who would be monitoring and fishing out these criminal elements from the various forests which currently serve as their hideouts. The government had in addition, engaged some labour to cut and clear the bushes along some of the high ways from where these criminals operate.
While some people had hailed and applauded these measures, others however contended that the government should better revive and engage the services of traditional hunters to help fight the insurgents, just like in many other states of the country.
They argued that throwing open or allowing the politicians to recruit the forest guards would be counter productive since these politicians would likely flood the system with their lackeys and political jobbers, who would neither near these forests nor fight the insurgents, and we would still remain where we were in terms of continued onslaught by the criminals.
In the past, virtually every community or village had expert hunters, those who were seen or regarded as kings or masters of the forests. These men practically lived in the forests while searching or hunting their games. They knew virtually every cranny or corner of the village forests and their various animal or human inhabitants. With hunting expeditions carried out at regular intervals, they were able to lay bare every living being in these forests.
That time, the hunters had organized themselves into guilds or hunters’ associations, and in the process were able to corroborate among themselves in their hunting expeditions and even had assisted each other one way or the other. They also had organized hunting festivals to feast and celebrate themselves and their trade, to the admiration or envy of nonmembers.
In course of time, and particularly due to the springing up of some urban centres of settlement with their attractive infrastructural facilities like electricity, schools, healthcare facilities, good road networks, etc., together with their attendant white collar jobs, both the hunting and farming activities in many communities became less attractive, with the result that many hunters and farmers had abandoned their villages and relocated to these urban centres in search of better and modern means of livelihood.
Since nature abhors a vacuum, it was not long before the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle began to occupy these forests and farmlands, from where the criminals now operate to terrorize the people, kill and destroy their farm crops.
To reclaim these abandoned forests and farmlands and ward off these terrorists, the government should solicit the services of both the hunters and farmers and encourage them to start plying their trades.
They should, in particular, help to revive the hunting culture in various communities, and engage these hunters as Forest Guards. Traditional rulers in each community should be reached out to get good hunters within their domain who should be automatically enrolled as members of the forests guards.
To make the exercise attractive and far reaching, competitive prizes, honours or accolades, should be instituted as rewards for outstanding hunters in each community, where the hunters themselves would be made to choose or nominate various winners of the awards.
In this way we would have succeeded in killing two birds with one stone. First, warding off criminals occupying our forests and farmlands from where they terrorize our people. Secondly, providing high quality animal food, even if in the process it would have further depleted the population of some of the engendered animal species.