The recent incident of the deer which encroached into urban territories far from its habitat and died near the Druk Punjab National Bank (DPNB) is substantive evidence that development activities in Bhutan have finally saturated the line of separation between human settlement and animal habitats.
Wildlife habitat fragmentation, an eventual and inevitable residue of progressive and continuous development works are observed as general reasons for the trend.
Prey species like barking deer and others stray into human settlements to escape their predators but end-up in vicinities filled with far greater threats.
In the past three years 41 barking deer were rescued and translocated of which 18 died excluding the barking deer which died near the DPNB.
Such cases have increased in number and the trend has become more visible in recent years. The records with the Rescue and Rehabilitation Center at Taba stated, eight barking deer were rescued in 2010, 13 in 2011 and 20 as of July 7 this year.
The head of the center, Kuenzang Gyeltshen said if the animals are treated within the first 10 to 12 minutes of injury, they stand a better chance to be saved.
However, under the current scenario, it takes hours before the help reaches the injured. It takes time for people to report on the incident and for help to reach them plus there is no ambulance. The only designated single cabin Hilux (Toyota pick-up truck) is at the headquarters and the center has to wait to process the movement order.
The center is also short of human resources with only three officials who have to cover cases from around the country. Even when a bear enters a house at Laya or an elephant situation comes up in Samtse, the center has to attend to it.
A proposal currently under review with the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation to set up a new Regional Rescue and Rehabilitation Center will perhaps bring the much needed changes. The end goal is to establish regional centers throughout Bhutan.
The location for the center for the western region is identified at Chamgang. 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 is estimated at USD 280,000.
The center received 169 cases as of July 7 this year. The 52 cases received this year includes one Rufous-throated Partridge, 11 Sambars, a Wild cat, three Wild boars, a Ruddy Shelduck, a Peregrine falcon, a Leopard Cat, seven Takins (three treated in captivity and four radio-collared), four Himalayan Black Bear and two Goral.