Human wildlife conflict worsens in Khaptoe

Agriculture: As harvest season sets in, Tshering Dorji from Khaptoe village spends sleepless nights guarding his paddy and maize fields. Farmers lose at least a fraction of their harvests to wild animals every year.

Despite trying several means to ward off wild animals, destruction of crops has been increasing in Khaptoe, villagers say.

“This year, I lost about 30 percent of my paddy and maize. The damage is only increasing and guarding the fields alone is not enough,” Tshering Dorji said. “Animals have started coming very near to the houses.”

With damage increasing by the year, fallowing of land has also augmented in the past two decades according to the villagers.

Phuntsho, 73, reminisces of a time when villagers would cultivate their land at Sephuzor and Manang. Today, jungles have grown in these areas and only few prefer to grow maize there.

“Wild animals caused too much damage and villagers were forced to leave their lands fallow,” Phuntsho said. “If this remains the case, fallowing of land is bound to further increase.”

Although it was only wild boars that usually ravaged the crops, villagers said that since 2013, monkeys have also started attacking their fields. A villager, Tshering Zangmo said she bought a dummy tiger to scare the monkeys last year.

“The dummy tiger worked for few weeks but then the monkeys were clever enough to realize it was not real. The idea failed,” she said. “The only solution we foresee would be installing electric fencing in the village.”

Although the agriculture department had planned an electric fencing along the paddy fields at Phoshing few years ago, the plan didn’t materialize. Fencing equipment was transported at the site and villagers contributed labor as well.

“However, there were some missing item and the works remained stalled for days,” Tshering Zangmo said. “The existing items were also stolen and since then, the works never took off.”

Samkhar gup, Sonam Dorji said that although human wildlife conflict is a problem in Khaptoe, it has not aggravated as much as in other prone areas in the gewog.

“I don’t think electric fencing can be of much support because it has not helped much at Yenangbrangsa where the fencing was installed,” he said. “The solution could be in addressing the gungtong issue that would improve human population and reduce the jungles.”

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang

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