Human wildlife conflict on the rise in Trongsa, Samtse, Mongar, Gasa, Trashigang and Thimphu

There are numerous ways in which humans and wild animals come into direct competition for a dwindling resource base and as a result there is direct confrontation.

This is exacerbated due to an explosion of human population, spreading out of developmental activities, climate change and other human and environmental factors.

All these factors exert direct pressure on the habitat of the animals and when they have no space, they risk their lives trespassing into the human domain where both the lives of human and wildlife comes into risks.

This is evident from the numerous incidents of human-wildlife conflict that the people across the country experience where different species of wildlife encroach into the human domain to destroy crops, kill domestic animals and destroy properties.

For instance farmers in Nubi gewog under Trongsa dzongkhag are experiencing rampant livestock depredation with tigers.

It has been reported that the communities of Dorji Goenpa not only heard of a tiger roaring at dusk but few had also personally encountered the tiger prowling through the village trails.

According to Nubi Gup Tashi Penden just over a period of 10 months 64 cattle belonging to the farmers in that area were killed by the tiger.

“A man last year reported of a tiger prowling on the road. He was chased the other way and fortunately managed to escape,” said the Gup.

The Gup said that though such incidences were reported to the concerned agencies but nothing has been done so far.

With no strong provisions in place, Gup Tashi Penden said that there is nothing the gewog or government can do and affected farmers cannot claim for compensation.

Therefore, the gewog has written a letter to the government appealing to come up with a provision whereby any affected farmers can claim for their losses.

“Since more efforts are focused on tiger conservation our cattle fall victims easily” Gup Tashi Penden said.

Similarly in Samtse farmers experience a constant threat from the elephants that live in a heard near human settlements.

The Samtse Gup Wangchuk Lepcha said that farmers are increasingly stumbling upon herds of elephant coming into their cultivated field and destroying everything, including their houses and properties that they find on their way.

He said the gewog received a report of a herd of elephants, led by a matured matriarch destroying a farmer’s property. From among the tails of destructions it left, the herd first rampage the areca nut and banana trees that were brought down.

The gup said that the elephants often destroy backyard orchard where farmers grow various fruits to supplements their income.

Meanwhile farmers in Kalapang under Mongar dzongkhag are often threatened by leopards and farmers have reported their poultry being killed.

The Saling Gup Sonam Yeshi said that in 2012 and 2013, farmers frequently came complaining about a leopard hunting down the poultry.

He said that farmers have poultry farms with a good number of hens which helped them earn income but slowly the numbers are plummeting as a leopard found its way and killed all the chicken at one go.

He also said that the forest official managed to trap the leopard and trans-locate it far from the human settlement and the situation in the village has improved to some extent.

In Laya under Gasa dzongkhag farmers reported of a Himalayan bear troubling and bothering the layaps and often farmers are taken completely by surprise to find a bear visiting their house.

The Laya Gup Kinley Dorji said that the lone bear plundered one house after another feeding on the stockpile of ration that Layaps hoarded.

The Layaps unanimously voted for the bear to be killed when wildlife conservation officials went to rescue the animal and trans-located it across the Mochu River

“At such a height and region the Layaps are equally a victim to wildlife living in the same climatic zone” Kinley Dorji said.

In many places under Trashigang dzongkhag farmers reported of other wildlife like monkeys, wild boar, deer, porcupine etc coming to their field and robbing their produce after toiling hard in the fields.

Pema Wangdi, a farmer in Khaling gewog said that from the day the seed is sown; his crop is constantly threatened by different species of wild animals and so he manage to reap little more than half of what he cultivated.

As per the records maintain by the Wildlife Rescue and Animal Health Section at Taba, each year a minimum 80 wildlife is being rescued or found encroaching into urban territories.

Wildlife like Rufus-throated Partridge, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild cat, Wild boars, Ruddy Shelduck, Peregrine falcon, Leopard Cat, Takin, Himalayan Black Bear and Goral are some wildlife species the center has rescued so far.

I the list the Barking Deer and Sambar dominate the list. The record also unveiled that the Himalayan Black Bear is also frequently rescued during summer.

Senior Forest Ranger Tsencho Tshering with Wildlife Rescue and Animal Health Section said that compared to previous years, there is a drastic increase in wildlife coming to human territories.

The Agriculture ministry has been providing compensation packages depending on the number of livestock killed by the tiger, but of late the system of compensation was changed looking at the sustainability issue in the future.

Over the years the compensation was made with grants received from donor agencies which were found to be not sustainable and so the government has allocated a Gewog Trust Fund for compensation.

The Gewog Trust Fund was initiated in 2012 in seven gewogs with Ngultrum 30,000 which was later increased to Ngultrum 50,000 for compensation to be made to the affected households.

The government has also introduced livestock insurance policy in the gewogs ranging from Ngultrum 50 to 100 depending on the number of cattle the farmers own and similarly free distribution of cattle to the affected farmers are introduced as another alternative by the ministry in reducing human wildlife conflict.

However some farmers still have not received any compensation and support from the government.

 

This article was made possible due to support from the Department of Information and Media

 

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