Gray langur joins crop raider group now

Wildlife: Central Himalayan Langur (semnopithecus schistaceus) has become nuisance in many villages of late as per a report from research and development centre in Yusipang.

The report on status and distribution of central himalayan or gray langur was released last month.

Central Himalayan langur, famed as lucky sighting by many, has also now become a serious agricultural pest in some villages of Wangdue, Paro and Dagana.

“Apart from crops, the gray langur has been also known to damage household properties such as utensils and furniture and causing disturbances in monasteries,” said the report of research that was carried out from September 2015 to May this year.

The gray langur, according to the report, is found in 11 of the western dzongkhags like Paro, Wangdue, Paro and Chukha, among others. But the central Himalayan langur isn’t found beyond Chendebji in Trongsa. In the south, the gray langur is found only till Arekha in Chukha and only up to Gathana, Gasa in the north.

The langurs are usually found in mixed coniferous-broadleaved forest at an elevation range of 385-3,382 metres above the sea level. Bhutan has an estimated population of 754 individuals in 32 groups and 30 solitary males.

Though gray langur sighting is liked by many because it is believed to bringgood luck, report says that equal number of people also dislike its presence because of attack on crops, homes and monasteries.

Report of gray langur attack on human was few and far between. Killing of the gray langur was also rare. Most of the killings were retaliatory. “But there is high chance of incidences of retaliation killings increasing if solutions to crop damage isn’t explored,” the report said.

Gray langur also faces risk of predation from domestic dogs. No poaching incidence of the central Himalayan langur was reported.

But the report made numbers of recommendations in its habitat and people management to reduce conflict and to mitigate threat. Although no serious threats were observed, the report recommended conservation and protection of cool temperate broadleaved and mixed coniferous broadleaved forests, particularly oak.

The report also advised planting non-invasive fruit trees in forests adjacent to settlements to create alternative natural feeding sites to reduce crop damages. “Establish artificial salt-licks in areas situated in close proximity to remote herding communities,” the report said.

Since there has been increasing trend of human feeding the gray langur, the report urged to create awareness among the people to refrain from such acts. In order to deter people from retaliatory killings, the report suggested educating people on the ecological role of the gray langur.

This is because the report said that most of those who liked seeing the gray langur did so because it is cute but not really out of compassion and for ecological reasons.

Developing innovative crop protection mechanisms such as improved fencing materials to guard crops against the gray langur and other wild animals was reiterated. The report also recommended developing gray langur management plan with special emphasis on population persistence and conflict mitigation.

As scientific recommendation, the report suggested home range, behaviour, spatial and movement ecology of the gray langur. Similar studies were also recommended to understand social organisation, behaviour, reproduction and mortality factors of gray langur.

In ecological need assessment, the report recommended studies in the gray langur habitat, dietary selection and availability of food, space requirement and movement corridors.

Tempa Wangdi

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