Review human-wildlife conflict strategy, say foresters

In the last four years, wild animals were reported to have claimed 493 livestock and 25 lives

Conservation: At least 10 livestock were lost each month to tigers, snow leopard and the Himalayan Black Bear in the past four years, records with Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD) show.

Between 2010 and 2014, of the 493 livestock killed, tigers preyed on 382 and snow leopards on 60.

Records also show that at last five lives were lost each year to wildlife from January 2010 until September this year. The Himalayan Black Bear claimed 17 lives topping the list of the predators while wild boars killed another four. The rest were lost to elephants and common leopard.

Despite numerous measures various government agencies took in the past to tackle the human-wildlife conflict (HWC) issue, not much was achieved, forest officials said.
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At the National Park Conference earlier this month, WCD’s forest officer, Tshering Zam presenting her group’s assessment of the issue proposed to review the National HWC strategy.

The problem was that agencies implemented their own programmes and a lack of coordination among them led to reduced effectiveness.

“Mitigation measures are mostly donor supported and sustainability of funds for implementation of interventions in future is a challenge in addressing the HWC,” Tshering Zam said.

The foresters suggested that more Gewog Environmental Conservation Committee (GECC) be formed and the seed money be revised to Nu 500,000 from Nu 300,000 to compensate livestock and crop depredation. There are today 26 GECC established across the country.

“This will help in addressing the livestock depredation,” Tshering Zam said.

The research team also cautioned that discontinuation of compensation may lead to retaliation from farmers.

“Compensation scheme, if continued should be paid for all livestock killed irrespective of predator. However compensation should be paid only if the kill is made in the village or sheds,” she said.

While the electric fencing has been successful in many parts of the country to deal with the issue, foresters found that it exerts mounting pressure on the environment in terms of rising demand for fencing poles.

“So there is a need to obtaining forestry clearance before installing electric fence,” Tshering Zam said.

Further the lack of support in maintenance had led to failure of some of the electric fencing.

The forestry department has installed 113.124km of fencing worth Nu 16.56 million as of April this year.

Department of Agriculture’s records from July 2013 to June 2015 show wild animals ravaged 8,058 acres of fields across the country causing a crop loss of 7,542MT, of which 1,725MT was paddy.

“HWC is becoming a serious threat to the survival of many endangered species throughout the world,” Tshering Zam said. “Conflicts are reported from all countries and in Bhutan, reported from almost all dzongkhags.”

The forest officer said that of late human casualties as a result of accidental encounter are also increasing. The forestry and parks services department developed the National Human -Wildlife Conflict Management Strategy in 2008 to address the increasing cases in Bhutan.

Tshering Palden

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