Electric fences deter Tigers from preying on cattle in Nubi gewog

Nubi Gewog in Trongsa  boasts a diverse agricultural landscape, cultivating nine varieties of crops including rice, maize, wheat, barley, buckwheat, millets, pulses, oilseeds, and amaranth. Known locally as bja, gayza, ka, nah, jarey, memja, sem, peka, and zimtse respectively, these crops form the backbone of the community’s agricultural life.

Additionally, dairy and vegetable farming serve as primary sources of income for the residents of Nubi Gewog.

However, despite the abundance of resources, challenges persist due to a significant human-wildlife conflict (HWC) in the area, and the market access for the people.

Trongsa records one of the highest instances HWC, with approximately 580 cases of livestock depredation by tigers reported between 2020 and 2024.

Whereby, Nubi Gewog alone accounted for 360 of these cases.

According to the latest Poverty Analysis Report (PAR) of 2022, certain regions such as Zhemgang, Samdrupjongkhar, Samtse, and Trongsa exhibit higher poverty rates compared to other dzongkhags, while Thimphu and Punakha demonstrate lower levels of poverty.

Kuenga, a 64-year-old resident of Jongthang village in Nubi Gewog, have approximately one acre of farmland and have fifteen cattle, although only five of them are productive milk producers.

Kuenga explains, “My primary source of income is dairy farming. During winter, my cows yield about two liters of milk each, and during summer, it increases to around three liters. I typically sell two to three kilograms of butter, although sometimes we have to reserve it for our own consumption. However, having more cattle also means more worries due to wildlife conflicts. Recently, three of my cattle fell prey to wildlife.”

In addition to dairy farming, Kuenga cultivates rice on his land, primarily for household consumption. However, he faces challenges in accessing distant markets due to high transportation costs and poor road conditions, especially during the summer.

While he occasionally sells chilies and black pepper, the earnings are modest, with a kilogram of black pepper fetching around Nu 1,500.

“Before the human-wildlife conflict were very less, however, it became a weekly incident until the pasture land was introduced with the electric fencing. The pasture land developed has been very beneficial for us. We keep our cows in that area where such incidents have become rare for us now,” he added.

Nubi Gewog has developed two pasture land in two areas with the help of the government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Bhutan for Life, and Vanishing Treasures under UN Environment Program.

A 45-acres in Semji village that benefits around 11 household and a 55-acres pasture land in Jongthang village known as Yalaypang community-based pasture development which benefits around 23 household.

Dorji Gyeltsen, a 44-year-old resident of Semji village in Nubi gewog, relies primarily on rice and dairy farming for his livelihood. He notes that while vegetable cultivation yields limited income, selling rice and chilies proves more profitable.

“Fortunately, we’ve experienced fewer tiger attacks in the last couple of years. In the past, each family endured more than 15 cattle attacks annually. Currently, I have approximately 20 cattle, but sadly, twelve of them have fallen prey to wild animals in the past. Two cows were attacked by a tiger within three months.”

Despite the potential of the vegetable business, he faces challenges in finding buyers due to a smaller number of people in the district.

“Sometimes, it’s more profitable to sell vegetables within the village rather than in Trongsa town, where competition is fierce. The recent fencing of the pasture land in Kerbi has been beneficial, allowing our cattle to graze freely and reducing tiger attacks in the area. However, during winter, the scarcity of grass remains a concern.”

He reflects on the positive impact of the electric fence in minimizing tiger attacks in Kerbi, which was previously a hotspot for such incidents.

Palden Lhendup, a 47-year-old resident of Semji Gewog, “In addition to dairy farming, I cultivate various types of vegetables. During the Mangdechhu hydro project and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our farming business flourished as people relied heavily on our produce. Despite our efforts, we face stiff competition from imported vegetables which is sold at lower prices.”

He emphasizes the significance of cattle in his income generation, whether through milk production or utilizing their dung as fertilizer for crops. However, he grapples with wildlife intrusion in his farm, resulting in damage to his vegetables.

“Since the installation of electric fencing, our village has experienced a significant decrease in cattle attacks. We owe a debt of gratitude to those responsible for implementing this measure.”

According to sources, between 2019 and 2024, Trongsa and Trashigang have received investments exceeding USD 1.32 million, courtesy of various entities including UNEP’s Vanishing Treasures Programme, the Department of Forest and Park Services, the Global Environment Facility, and the Department of Livestock, according to reliable sources.

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