Free roaming cattle is a nuisance

Kelzang Choden | Intern

There is a standing rule that restricts cattle rearing in the capital’s thromde. The free-roaming cattle may be unaware, but the owners are pretending to not know or are not cooperating with the authorities.

Cattle roaming the city roads, often disrupting traffic flow and risking accidents are a common sight today. From Taba in the north to Depsi in the south, cattle and vehicles fight for space on the busy roads. Incidences of cattle damaging property and kitchen gardens are reported every day.

Milking cows with their calves are let loose on the city’s main roads, said one Olakha resident who said that sometimes cows curiously peer into their shops. “It is risky for both motorists and the animals,” she said.

A resident of Babesa said that the thromde is not implementing the rule strictly. “I think some residents who keep cattle are not aware or convinced that the thromde would do anything.”  The resident said that the old highway (between Semtokha to Royal Thimphu College junction)  is narrow, and congested with free-roaming cattle disrupting traffic.

The busy Thimphu-Babesa expressway is also not spared. A resident said that with healthy bulls roaming freely, they could fall prey to cattle rustlers.

Further south at Depsi, cattle are let loose in the residential areas deliberately, according to residents. A resident at Depsi-Phakha, Samdrup, said that every morning when they leave for office, free-roaming cattle would stream by their residences, marauding whatever they could find on their way.

Flowers, saplings and vegetables are eaten or destroyed besides damaging locked gates, he said.  He added that the cows are intentionally guided to the residential area as the owners do not have to worry about looking after them during the day. “The owners are worried about the cows straying further off in the large forested area making it difficult to find their way back to the residences in the evening.”

Depsi was a village until a few years ago. Some households rear cattle as they are not in the thromde area.

Another resident said that he was travelling to Paro when he saw cows eating the flowers and shrubs planted along the road dividers on the expressway. “The government has put in a lot of efforts to make it and now the cows are destroying it.”

Officials from Thimphu Thromde said that the thromde has cattle catchers who monitor the thromde for any stray animals and they have a routine schedule which they follow. They also attend to any complaints that the thromde receives.

“Stray animals are a huge nuisance as they destroy all of thromde’s plantation and beautification works. They also cause traffic congestion when left on the roads” she added.

The stray animals caught by the thromde are impounded for a week during which the owners are allowed to claim their animals. Upon claiming their animals, the owners are levied a fine of  Nu 1,500 a day. After a week, unclaimed animals are handed over to Semchen Tsethar Tshogpa in Wangdue.

Pounding stray cattle could become a good source of revenue for the cash-strapped thromde.