Phub Dem

With the onset of summer, herders from Samste are bringing their cattle to Haa.

Since Samtse is identified as a high-risk area, Covid-19 task force made it mandatory for the herders to undergo seven days quarantine in the forests.

Herders said they could take about a week to reach Selela, the grazing ground for the cattle and cover the quarantine period on their journey. 

According to some herders from Shari in Haa, they will stay in the jungle for more than two weeks until grasses grow in Selela. 

Tshering Dema, who is currently herding 70 cattle, is at Lunchena. She reached Haa yesterday after undergoing a rapid antigen test to rule out Covid-19.

She said the mandatory quarantine did not affect herders, as they usually allow the cattle to graze along the way for two to three weeks before they reach Selela.

She also said that the annual migration came as a relief considering the risk of infection at the southern dzongkhags. “We will abide by the government’s directive and will not mingle with any locals as it is risky.” 

Puduna tshogpa, Nimchu, said the first three herds would reach Selela tomorrow, and they would undergo rapid testing at Selela. “It is difficult to connect with the herders due to poor network coverage.”

Sombaykha drungpa, Tsheltrim Dorji, said the drungkhag taskforce had put everything in place, and desuups and police were already at Selela to facilitate the entry.

He said the Covid-19 task force of Dorikha had escorted the herders until they crossed Sertena under Gakiling gewog after the rapid antigen test. “After crossing Sertena, there is no settlement, and the herders migrate through the forest.”

He said that the officials at Selela were in constant touch with the herders, although it was difficult due to the poor network. 

Nado from Dophuchen gewog in Samtse, who will migrate towards Selela on Monday, is confused about whether he has to undergo the Covid-19 test.

Unlike other herders, Nado does not have to cross Selela as he spends four months summer grazing in Selela. 

He said that he was confused if he should walk to the testing camp and do the testing. “The testing camp at Selela is far from my camp. Besides, I don’t have to mingle with anyone from Haa.”

Haa dzongkhag health officer Samtse said that if herders cross Haa’s border they have to undergo the testing considering the risk of infection. To the local people.“Herders who usually stayed more than a week before reaching Selela would undergo rapid testing upon their arrival.” 

He said that the health officials would provide the service at the herds. 

All the herders leaving Samtse were briefed about the Covid-19 protocols before their journey.

As of today, 59 cattle herders, including 629 cattle and 64 horses have migrated from Dorokha in Samtse to Haa via Sertena since March 6. 

According to the records with Sombaykha drungkhag 31 households with 91 herders would migrate from Dorokha to Haa until the end of July this year.