This was one of the recommendations made by members from APAP member countries 

To address the issue of human wildlife conflict in the region, representatives of member countries of Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) shared some of the best practices and issues related to human wildlife conflict in the respective countries.

To address human wildlife conflict in the region, species-specific guidelines, environment friendly materials for fencing and understanding wildlife diet were some of the recommendations made by Bhutanese representatives at the workshop.

Eleven member countries of APAP attended the two-day workshop to discuss human wildlife conflict in the region.

The representatives said that wild boars, elephants and black bears are some of the common animals associated with human wildlife conflict in the region.

Sarpang’s chief forest officer, Phub Dhendup, said that intervention put in by the officials should be species specific and applicable to all countries in the region. “For the existing guidelines on elephants, modifications can be done to also apply it for the boars and bears.”

Representatives from Bhutan said that the wooden fencing post in the country are not durable and environment friendly.

Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment Research’s chair of Department of Conservation Biology, Tshering Tempa, said that a huge number of wooden fencing posts are cut from forest for electric fencing in the country and the post only lasts for about three years. “We are planning to use high pressure pipes for fencing in the southern region.”

He added that the initial cost would be higher but the durability and the material will be better for the use.

Chief forest officer of Wangdue forest division, Karma Tenzin, said that electric fencing is one of the intrusive measures used to protect crops. “Rather than using intrusive ways to stop the animals, we should also try to have guidelines with values.”

Tshering Tempa said that in the past, wild animals in Bhutan were related with strong beliefs. “If there are such beliefs, then these should be encouraged.”

He added that incorporating values in the guidelines would also benefit in protecting the animals.

Concerns regarding poaching and illegal marketing in the country was also one of the issues raised at the workshop.

Agriculture ministry officials said that farmers in the country set traps and in a way try to make an income through illegal practices. “Law protects the farmer but if not detected, that person can earn an income. We need to focus on that problem as well.”

Recommendations were made that understanding nutrition and diet of the wild animals could also be used in reducing human wildlife conflict in the country.

Paro’s chief forest officer, Kaka Tshering, said that to avoid wild animals attacking crops, stringent rules should be implemented to stop people from collecting forest products consumed by wild animals.

Participants said that climate change and disturbance of animal habitat could also add to the human wildlife conflict.

A report will be produced at the end of this year with activities and highlights of the workshop. The report will serve as a reference for the member countries.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s task force on human wildlife conflict will also adopt the common issues and measures taken by the countries and provide a guideline with best practices to tackle human wildlife conflict.

Phurpa Lhamo