A Royal Bengal Tiger was spotted by residents of the Yangphel Real Estate while going to their offices on the morning of 21st March.
The tiger, at the outset, speculated to be an old displaced male, was later identified as a female who was also captured in remote cameras at multiple locations during the National Tiger Survey in 2014 and 2015 consecutively.
According to a Nature Conservation Division (NCD)’s senior forest official, Ugyen Penjor, “The Tiger did not stray into the urban space. We have records from long term studies of tigers in Bhutan and with particular reference to this tigress, he was well and safe within his home range. The edge distance of where he was first seen on the road was approximately 1.5 km. This means he was inside her home range and the nearest forest to settlement edge was more than a kilometer considering an aerial measurement. His approximate home range as determined through minimum convex polygon is more than 100 kms, which means he is roaming over a large area of Kabesa,-Chamina-Dodena area”.
Ugyen said, “The Tiger did not stray into our space rather we have encroached on his habitat. He and his predecessors probably used the forest area where the road has been built. Tigers are highly territorial and they will try to protect their home range to the extent possible lest they are displaced due to intrusion by a dominant and more powerful tiger. It is normal and within the limited thinking capability of a non-biologist to speculate varied reasons as to why tiger has strayed into our space”.
He said, “While some may question our conservation strategies with tiger coming this close to human settlement, I feel the conservation strategy in Bhutan has never gone wrong. In 2017, a study was conducted to assess the global conservation effort and found that Bhutan ranked first in Asia and fourth in the world in terms of mega fauna conservation ranking”.
Foresters from NCD rescued the Tiger and kept him under observation for a few days at the Wildlife Clinic at Taba to do some checks to ensure that the tiger is in a good condition. There has been no decision take on it’s release or not.
The 2014-2015 tiger survey estimated around 103 tigers in the country today found at all altitudes.
Correction: An earlier version of this article mentioned the Tiger as being female based on data from NCD. The NCD did another check and found the tiger to be a male.