The team of forestry officials and a veterinary doctor, who visited Lhyaul chiwog in Chudzom, Sarpang, on August 18 to rescue the Himalayan black bear and her cubs, found that the bear and the two cubs were not trapped inside the electric fencing as farmers had claimed.

The team confirmed that the bears from the nearby forest entered the maize fields every night.It was found that for the last three weeks, the bears eat the crop and lingered around the village sometimes.

However, villagers now say that there are four bears, two adult and two cubs, ravaging the crops.

They say that while one of the adults has been feeding in the lower part of the village, the mother bear with its two cubs enter the maize field in the upper part of the village .

A lthough the bear visiting maize field was confirmed through its footprint trails inside the farm, not many farmers have seen it.

A villager, Tika Ram Rimal, who lost at least 200kgs of maize to the bears, said the villagers are living in fear.

“We expected the forestry officials to catch the bear but that did not happen. The bears are roaming freely in the farms,” he said. “There are four of them.”

He said that when they go to chase them away, they move into a different direction, leaving them in fear of being attacked. “We don’t know what to do.”

Tika Ram has begun leaving his dog in the maize field, which has helped chase the bear until now.

In a recent encounter, farmer Lok Nath Oli woke up to find a bear eating maize behind his house at 5am. He picked up a stone and threw towards the bear.

“Instead of running, the bear ran towards me and my wife,” he said. Lok Nath said they ran inside his house.

“More than the crop damage, we’re worried that it might attack us, particularly school going children,” his wife Bishnu Maya said. “It has been weeks that I have been dropping off and picking my son from school.”

Villagers say the forestry rescue team returned the same day after finding that the bears were not trapped.

The tshogpa, Monorath Dahal, said that there was nothing the forestry officials could do when the bears were not found trapped inside the electric fencing.

“There is no way gewog could help the villagers besides cautioning them to be careful,” he said. “In last three weeks, maize belonging to at least 11 households has been damaged. We hope it won’t attack people.” 

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang