The villagers in Dompala in Limbukha and Kabisa gewog in Punakha said that while human-wildlife conflict was always a problem in the villages, the problem got worse this year.

  The farmers in Dompala, one of the two chiwogs in Limbukha gewog that is yet to get electric fencing for their fields said that without two people, it is difficult to guard a paddy field against wild boars, monkeys and deer.

 A farmer, Nidup Wangdi, 68, from Dompala, a community of 21 households said that in the past years, they don’t have to guard their fields that often and even if they had to, a single person can guard the entire field at night. 

 “We now have to guard our fields from monkeys during the daytime and from wild boars and deer at night,” he said.

 Limbukha chiwog in the gewog first installed the electric fences about three years ago. A year later, Nabched and Omtekha installed the fences.

“When a village installs electric fences then the wild animals starts to get into the fields in nearby villages that don’t have electric fences and this is happening to our village now,” Nidup Wangdi said.

Despite not having electric fences, he said that Gumkarmo do not face human-wildlife conflict as much as the villagers in Dompala do because the chiwog is near Khuruthang town. “Our tshogpa said our electric fence would arrive soon. We hope this would address the issue.”

In 2015-16, about 42 households in various gewogs in Punakha had installed 14 kilometres (kms) of electric fence. The next year, about 85 households installed 44 kms of electric fences.

 Another 248 households installed electric fence of 94 kms in 2017 -18.

A 75-year-old woman from Dompala, Chenzo, said that unlike in the past, her family had made huts in various places around their field this year. “Majority of the family members have to go guard the field at night and we hardly have anyone sleeping at home.”

She said that the wild boars came in a group and people cannot scare them away.  “Those guarding the fields spend sleepless nights calling one another nearby for help to scare the wild boars away.”

“Most of our yields have been eaten by the wild animals now,” she said with a sigh. “I cannot sleep when my children go to guard the fields at night. I am worried that the wild boars would hurt them because they are not scared of people anymore.”

Chenzo said that during daytime, the villagers have to lock the houses and guard their fields from the monkeys.

Initially, water shortage makes it difficult to transplant paddy saplings, she said. “We need to have at least three men supply water for irrigation of paddy fields.”

“After all the hard work we have put in, our crops are eaten by the wild animals,” she said.

“My children said they don’t want to cultivate paddy next year,” she said. “If we leave our land fellow for a year then it would be difficult to start farming again. If the situation continues, then our ancestral land would remain fallow.”

Some of her neighbours chose to leave their lands fallow, she said.

Namgay Bidha, 49, said the electric fence in her village had greatly reduced the wild animals from entering their fields but the fence cannot block big wild boars who come in a group. “They break the thin wires and get inside.”

She said the area was vast and once a wild boar gets inside the campus, it is difficult to get the animal out.

In the past two years, she said the village did not face much conflict with the wild animals. 

“This year, despite having electric fences, we lost some of our crops to wild animals.”

 A farmer from Wakudamchi in Serigang, Tshering Yangden, said in the past they had to guard their fields against wild boars at night. “Now, we have to guard our fields against the monkeys even during the daytime.”

With limited man power, she said it is difficult to guard the fields.

Of 5,984 households in Punakha, 375 households have electric fencing of 1,069 kms.

Dechen Tshomo | Punakha