First wildlife clinic inaugurated at Taba

Four more, at Gelephu, Trashigang, Trongsa and Samtse, are in the pipeline

WCD: To provide timely and reliable health care to injured wild animals, agriculture ministry’s wildlife conservation division opened a wildlife clinic and laboratory at Taba on January 30.

While the clinic will treat injured and diseased wild animals, it would also conduct research and experiments to avoid zoonotic diseases from spreading to humans during treatment.

Facing the unit is an enclosure where injured animals will be kept for about two weeks during their treatment.  Currently, a bear and a deer are getting nursed for injuries.

The head of the wildlife rescue and animal health section, Kuenzang Gyaltshen, said, until now, the domestic veterinary centre provided support in treating injured wild animals.

“This was a much needed clinic, in terms of providing better care for injured wild animals,” he said.

The unit has a manager, a veterinarian, two trained rangers, a wildlife technician, four attendants and an animal caretaker.

Kuenzang Gyaltshen said that annually more than 60 wild animals were rescued and treated.  Last year, 62 were treated for injuries.  Of the 62, about 12 were Himalayan black bear, which were injured in human-wildlife conflicts.

“Human-wildlife conflict constitute quite a bit of wild animal injuries,” he said.

Wildlife conservation division constructed the clinic and laboratory at Taba at a cost of Nu 12M, after availing a loan from the World Bank.

Recently, they also floated a tender to construct another wildlife clinic and laboratory at Bhur in Gelephu.  It will be constructed at a cost of Nu 15M, which would also be availed as loan from the World Bank.

The cost of construction for the Gelephu clinic is more than that of Taba because, officials said, additional space and enclosure would be constructed to accommodate crocodiles.

After the construction completes, all crocodiles from Phuentsholing’s breeding farm will be relocated to Gelephu.   Kuenzang Gyaltshen reasoned overcrowding for the relocation, but the exact number of crocodiles at the centre could not be confirmed.

Three more wildlife clinics will be constructed in the coming years.  For the eastern region, it will be built in Trashigang, while Trongsa’s clinic will cater to central Bhutan and the last one will be opened in Samtse by 2018.

By Nirmala Pokhrel

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