Tiger attacks leads to dwindling livestock

With an increasing number of tiger predation on livestock and threats to the safety of humans in Nubi gewog under Trongsa, the people’s representative from Nubi-Tangsibji constituency, Nidup Zangpo, shared concerns raised by the communities in the Parliament yesterday during the question- hour session.

He said the livestock depredation has been very rampant over the years and tiger attacks on humans are also getting to be a serious issue in the area.

He said that loss of livestock to the tiger has been an old issue and the affected farmers are given compensation in such cases. However, he added that when it comes to the danger posed to human lives by the tiger, the government needs to do something urgently.

It has been reported that the communities in Dorji Goenpa can hear numerous tiger roars at dusk. A few of the people have also encountered tigers prowling through the village trails.

Hence, Nubi-Tangsibji MP questioned the Agriculture and Forests ministry on the alternatives being made to address the issues since compensation packages for the victims, which in the past the government used to have in place, has been stopped of late.

In response to the question, Agriculture and Forests Minister, Yeshey Dorji, said that the ministry has been getting reports on increasing number of wildlife coming into direct confrontation with human and getting rescued.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that Nubi gewog is one of the most prominent gewog among few other gewogs in the country where tigers are encroaching into human domain and livestock is being taken.

Sharing the numbers of cattle killed by tigers, Lyonpo said that so far the ministry has received reports on 75 cattle killed in Langthel gewog, 57 in Nubi gewog and 31 in Tangsibji in gewog under Trongsa.

Therefore, Lyonpo said that depending on the number of livestock killed by the tiger, the ministry provided compensation packages before, but of late the system of compensation was changed looking into the sustainability issue in the future.

Over the years, Lyonpo said that the compensation was made with grants received from donor agencies, which were found not sustainable and the government later had to allocate certain Geowg Trust Fund for compensation.

According to Lyonpo, the Gewog Environmental Conservation Fund was initiated in 2012 in seven gewogs with Nu 30,000 which was later increased to Nu 50,000 for compensation to be made to the affected households.

He added that the government has also introduced livestock insurance policy in the gewogs, ranging from Nu 50 to 100 depending on the number of cattle the farmers own.

He pointed out that different regions have different insurance policy, like the southern region has insurance against elephant damaging crops, and likewise other regions have insured for wildlife predation on livestock.

Sharing on the other alternatives by the ministry in curtailing human-wildlife conflict, Lyonpo said that the ministry has been providing electric fencing in the areas where human- wildlife conflict is rampant.

Lyonpo said that the use of innovative electric fence in many gewogs in the country for shielding crops from wild animals in the research sites has shown a constructive outcome.

The impact assessments conducted by the Research Development Centre (RDC) in Wengkhar showed that the use of electric fence in the sites has reduced human- wildlife conflict from an elevated 100 percentage before fencing to as low as 10 percentage after fencing.

Consequently, this positive outcome has helped increased food sufficiency by 30 to 40 percentage, and apart from the reduction in crop damages, farmers in the trial sites also reported increased cultivation of crops, crop diversity, reduction in fallow land, reduced crop guarding time and also reduced crop guarding related disputes in the community.

Similarly, Lyonpo said that free distribution of cattle to the affected farmers and organizing farmers’ tour to observe the leading gewogs are also few other alternatives initiated by the ministry in reducing human-wildlife conflict.

Supplementing on the issue, the Bardo-Trong MP, Leki Dorji, said that the wildlife coming into villages are sometimes sick, old or displaced from their habitats.

He said that the conservation effort by the agriculture ministry should be enhanced since the tigers are currently listed as “Endangered” species on the International Union of the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

To this the agriculture minister said that wildlife injured and wounded seeking further protection from park management is not a rare incident. It is even more uncommon due to the fact that there is higher concentration of wildlife within the protected areas.

Lyonpo added that over the years Bhutan has been seeing increasing cases of wildlife straying in human domain being rescued and taken to animal rehabilitation centers every month.

Therefore, Lyonpo said that the animal rehabilitation center in Taba will be enhanced in size and a new animal rehabilitation center in Jigmeling is being constructed on 15 acres of land and will be operational soon. A large animal rehabilitation center in the east will be constructed soon with the grant received from the Government of India.

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