Habitat dislocation – a way of life for Wangdue wildlife

A rescue centre has been necessitated for this collateral damage of the hydropower projects

 Ecology: The commencement of hydropower projects have destroyed the habitat and displaced several wild animals from the forests of Wangdue.

Three years ago, foresters of Wangdue forest division in Lobesa found three injured sambar deer from Limbukha and Thinleygang area.  The fawns were kept in a temporary rescue shelter near the division office and bottle fed until they turned six months.  The deer, which include two females, were then fed Karma Feed and grass.

They are among the several wild animals that foresters in Wangdue have rescued since 2009.  Chief forest officer, Kencho Dukpa, said, in most cases, the animals had strayed into the city due to disturbances and destruction of their habitats.

Habitat-dislocation has become a persistent problem for the wildlife in Wangdue.  Following the commencement of Punatsangchu hydropower projects, Kencho Dukpa said the number of wild animals leaving their habitat and needing  to be rescued has increased.

Last year, the division rescued five male and two female Sambar deer from a pack of dogs.  But since they were injured, they died a few days later.

“We’ve also rescued a vulture, which was later taken to Bumthang,” a forester said. “A black stork and a bear from Tobesa were also moved to the Motithang animal rescue centre in Thimphu, last year.”

Officials said that, between 2011 and 2013, the division has rescued two female gorals and a male juvenile bear from Kamichu area at the Punatsangchu project site.  The animals were later taken to Motithang.  Between 2009 and 2010, they rescued a male and two female sambar deer from Limbukha in Punakha and Sha in Wangdue.

Forestry officials said, among other wild animals, sambar deer tend to leave their habitat when there is blasting or construction noises in the surrounding areas.

Kencho Dukpa said, although there was no place developed for rescued animals, the division had created a small area to keep the animals and, among the rescued, the three-sambar deer have been kept the longest at the shelter.

Each sambar deer is fed three litres of milk a day, and two kilograms of Karma Feed.

“Since we don’t have a separate caretaker, the office caretaker Krishna looks after the animals,” he said. “There’s no budget to buy their feeds, so the office manages on its own.”

Kencho Dukpa said they were planning to develop the area as a rescue centre, for which they have requested funding from the wildlife conservation division.

The centre will cost about Nu 1.8M (million) and would be divided into two separate spaces, one for birds and deer and the other for tiger, bear and other animals.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Punakha

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