One of five recently launched centres operational

Funds have been secured for the establishment of the other four

Agriculture: Of the five centres the agriculture ministry launched on January 5, it is only the Southern Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Jigmeling, Sarpang, that is operational as of now.

With its summer centre in Choladophu ready and 50 percent of the work complete for the winter centre at Chonaphu in Bji gewog in Haa, the Integrated Yak Conservation and Breeding Centre in Haa is expected to be operational by this June.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that the National Native Poultry (Yubja) Centre in Lhuentse will be also operational by June or July this year.

“We have constructed the shed and the staff quarter is under construction.”

The minister also said that with the design ready and funds secured for the Centre for Conservation and Breeding of Bhutanese Mastiffs, the centre is expected to be operational soon.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that establishing the centre will not be difficult, as they just have to construct pounds to house the mastiffs.

While WWF and professors of Virgina Tech University agreed to fund the Regional Centre for Tiger and Cats Research in Tingtibi, Zhemgang, it is not yet determined when it will be operational.

It was learnt that they will first have to recruit the regular staff and construct structures of the centre.

Meanwhile, project coordinators emphasised the importance of centres.

The project coordinator for the Integrated Yak Conservation and Breeding Centre in Haa, Towchu Rabgay, said yak farming is a source of livelihood for herders scattered in 10 dzongkhags, who play an important role in maintaining the integrity of northern frontiers.

“But the herders face the threat of extinction of nomadic culture and loss of biological diversity in the highlands,” he said. “There is also this threat of decline in yak population and deterioration of yak quality.”

He said the establishment of the centre is expected to contribute to yak breeding and conservation. “We are also hoping to establish yak based cottage enterprise.”

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said the centre will also be used to keep yaks safe. “Right now Tshethar Tshogpa save yaks but there is no place to keep the animals.”

The Regional Centre for Tiger and Cats Research in Tingtibi, Zhemgang, according to the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment’s senior biologist, Tshering Tempa, is expected to establish a regional prominence, where Bhutan can provide leadership and expertise in terms of tiger and cats conservation at a national and regional level.

“Given Bhutan’s acknowledgment in conservation works, this centre is befitting since it will also help in conducting scientific research on tigers and other wildlife,” he said.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that Centre for Conservation and Breeding of Bhutanese Mastiffs (Bjob-Khyi) will be established in Gasa.

He said the breed is known for its natural guarding instincts and is the pride of the highlanders. “But it has lost its inherent genetic characters and it is a must to revive it.”

The agriculture minister also said through the establishment of the centre, they intend to conserve the pure Bhutanese Mastiff through selective breeding. “We will then distribute it to alpine herders.”

The National Native Poultry Breeding Centre in Lhuentse, according to Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji is expected to revive native poultry for resilient poultry farming in Bhutan.

According to a senior livestock production officer, Tshewang Tashi, native poultry has become rare and traditional values and intangible benefits are waning. “There is depletion of local poultry germaplasm and it is a must we revive the use of our native poultry as an integral part of the Bhutanese farming system.”

He also said that through the centre, they will try to avoid cross breeding with exotic breeds and then supply pullets to clustered households.

Meanwhile, the Southern Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Jigmeling was constructed with funding support from the Regional Wildlife Project of the World Bank.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said the centre will provide veterinary care and rehabilitation for rescued wildlife and will also house crocodiles and gharial. “Some crocodiles from Phuentsholing have already been shifted there.”

Tashi Dema

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