In what could be a spate of livestock depredation by a tiger, six households of Khangrab, Benjibi, Uamling villages in Tang, Bumthang recently lost six oxen in a row to the tiger prowling within the forests close to their villages.
Three oxen aged six, 10 and 11 were killed on 12 August, while another three oxen aged four and nine were killed on August 20,21 and 23 consecutively. Kuenzang Wangdi of Khengrab and Tenzin Phuntsho of Benjibi villages lost two oxen each while Phuntsho Wangdi of Benjibi and Ugyen Tshering of Uamling villages lost one ox each.
The report of the kill was first reported to the western Park Range of Thrumshingla National Park on 25 August. The investigation team upon reaching the kill spot to ascertain the main culprit, suspected the tiger. The tiger was suspected due to the scratches and bite marks seen on the carcass of the cattle on neck, shoulder, back and legs.
According to Western park Ranger Pema, Tigers normally attack on the neck and back of the larger prey. “We’ve also found pug marks of the tiger measuring 14-15 cms within the proximity of the kill spot.” He added that to further ascertain the kill by tiger, camera traps have been set up in the kill area.
The loss mainly involved oxen of local breed. The investigation team also found out that among the six killed, only three carcasses are deemed to be fit for consumption. Other three carcasses were rotten and rendered inconsumable.
The tiger, according to the field report, killed the cattle within the altitude range of 3997 to 4124 meters above sea level. The report also pointed out that cattle were released in the high forest for free grazing. “None of the affected farmers herd their cattle,” stated the field report.
However, an earlier attempt to ascertain the presence of tigers within the park premise by the park management with camera traps has not yielded results. A total of six cameras were set up in the places such as Iyou, Pangbiyum and Zanjar. This is because three oxen were killed in the area before the number of kills reached nine.
“We monitored the camera traps for a week. Upon downloading the images, not even single picture of tiger was captured,” said Pema.
Pema also said that the camera traps are still in the field and monitored time to time.
However, after the nine oxen were killed in three different places the officials with the TNP confirmed its presence.
One of the team member said that the tiger prowling in Tang areas would be either due to more numbers of tigress in that areas for mating or due to abundance of their prey.