Chhimi Dema and Phub Dem
At around 3am yesterday, police along with locals of South Thimphu and Paro caught a man in his 20s involved in slaughtering three cattle, including a cow, opposite Wangsisina.
Two other suspects fled the crime scene.
Officer in charge for South Thimphu, Captain Tshering Palden, said that the suspect confessed to his crime, and the families of two men who fled were informed.
“It was possible to catch the culprits because of the community’s support,” she said.
This month, South Thimphu police on patrol sighted cattle heads, skin and limbs in a few areas. They checked meat shops in Thimphu but could not trace the culprits.
After the third sighting of cattle heads and limbs, police consulted with people about the issue and formed a team to patrol the areas, according to the police OC.
The team on duty spotted a pick-up truck heading towards the Education City Project site. The police and locals caught the suspects as they were loading meat in the truck.
Police suspect that the culprits during the day tethered the cattle that were freely grazing on to trees and came at night to slaughter them.
The slaughter area is secluded, and soft beverage bottles were hung on trees to find their way, Tshering Palden said.
This was not the first incident at the former Education City project site. Police suspects that the man caught and those on the run were also involved in the slaughtering of cattle near Esuna this month.
Cattle have been missing mysteriously from Wangsisina and neighbouring Dogar gewog for about three years. The locals were suspicious and frustrated with cattle rustling cases and began patrolling around the Wangsisina area a month ago.
After spending many sleepless nights patrolling the area, the team couldn’t find a lead. In the meantime, some cattle owners found cattle body parts thrown away in the forest.
On the night of August 24, Sisina tshogpa Phurba, along with his three friends, waited for an hour beneath the Sisina nunnery, looking for any suspicious movement opposite Wangsisina. While returning from Chuzom, one of his friends saw a light on the opposite hill.
Then the team called police for support and was soon joined by two police personnel from Khasadrapchu PS. The six of them charged the bolero and caught the driver but two men ran away.
Five days ago, the locals found the remains of a cow and a bull on a hill above. Many locals residing in Wangsisina and cattle herders from Dogar gewog reported about 40 heads of cattle that went missing between 2019 and this year.
Gembo Singye from Dogar gewog said that as there was no large grazing land for cattle in his gewog, the animals graze freely at Shongchi Phakha, located opposite Wangsisina. Except for milking cows and calves, others are left to graze in the open.
Goensakha tshogpa Tandin Wangchuk said that about 20 cattle from his chiwog were missing causing huge losses to villagers.
A Tshangkha resident, Ugyen Tshering, lost some cows recently and for the second time in three years.
While the locals tried their best to catch the culprit, he said that there has to be strict law so that such kind of animal brutality doesn’t recur.
Chencho, who has been herding cattle for about 40 years near the Wangchhu in a temporary shed, is scared. “If I happen to encounter them in their act alone, they can even kill me.”
Last year, he rescued six bulls that were tethered to a tree. Although locals complained about the issue, he said there had been no positive response and support. “I lost around 13 cattle in two years.”
Meanwhile, Police said that the meat from previous incidents was sold to a meat shop in Thimphu.
Captain Tshering Palden urged people to report any suspicious individuals or vehicles in their area, look after their cattle and assess the meat before buying from meat shops.
Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority disposed of the meat from yesterday’s slaughter.
Edited by Tshering Palden