The increasing incidences of wildlife encroaching into human territories and coming in direct confrontation with humans, even in urban areas, is evidence enough that the line of separation between human settlements and animal habitats are closing in.
A general reason for the trend is due to the wildlife habitat fragmentation caused by the eventual and inevitable residue of progressive and continuous development works. This exerts a direct pressure on the wildlife habitat and leads to wildlife getting either killed or injured when trespassing into human
Most of the time, prey species, like the barking deer, stray into human settlements to escape their predators, but end up in the vicinities filled with far greater threats.
As per the records maintain by the Wildlife Rescue and Animal Health Section (WRAHS) at Taba, a minimum 80 wildlife, like barking deer, Rufous-throated partridge, sambars, barking deer, wild cat, wild boars, Ruddy Shelduck, Peregrine falcon, leopard cat, takins, Himalayan black bear, and gorals are rescued or found encroaching into urban territories each year.
According to a Senior Forest Ranger, Tshencho Tshering,
starting January this year till date, about 29 wildlife species were rescued and released back into the wild after treatment. He said that it is mostly the herbivore species, primarily the barking deer and sambar, which dominate the list.
The record also unveils that the Himalayan black bear is also frequently rescued during summer months. Tshencho Tshering also confirmed that as compared to previous years, there is a drastic increase of wildlife encroaching into human settlements in recent years, and wildlife succumbing to death due to severe injuries. Meanwhile, the common leopard is rarely found trespassing into the human
The animals that are treated within the first 10 to 12 minutes of injury stand a better chance of getting saved. Most of the wildlife abandoned by their mothers, sick, or solitary, are rescued and trans-located to the WRAHS.
However, the rescue comes with numerous challenges under the current scenario. For instance, it takes hours before the help reaches the injured animals. It takes time for people to report the incident and for help to arrive as there is no ambulance for injured wildlife animals. The only designated single cabin Toyota Hilux (pick-up truck) is parked at the headquarters and
requires the movement orders.
As per records maintained by the Social Forestry and Wildlife Section (SFWS), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, the current mechanism of transporting injured wildlife and releasing it back into the wild results in the death of animals as they are traumatized and lose their energy while struggling to find ways to escape.
Further, the wildlife rescue officials that are involved in the safe release of the wildlife lack the competency to give the accurate treatment, medication, and care of the wounded animals. Adding to such a setback, Bhutan also lacks a rehabilitation center where injured animals can be treated and cared for until its release.
However, there are plans to build a center in the western region at Chamgang, Thimphu. Around eight to ten acres have been identified for future expansions. It will include a clinic for treatment with different animal shelters and staff quarters. The budget to build the center is estimated at USD 280,000.