Chimi Dema  | Tsirang

Foresters in Dagana and Tsirang dzongkhags have apprehended and penalised more than 77 cases of wildlife crimes until May, this year.

Of the 60 illegal wildlife activities, Dagana forest division recorded 20 illegal fishing, and 10 illegal extractions and transits of timber, among others.

The division has also caught and penalised offenders for illegal collection of non-wood forest products.

Dagana Chief Forestry Officer (CFO), Kencho Dukpa said, in some communities, some take advantage of the current situation and go for illegal wildlife activities.

He said that despite the shortage of human resources due to staff deployment for Covid-19 duty along the southern border, the division has increased the frequency for patrolling and monitoring.

The surveillance team at Sunkosh forest check post, which is currently operating as one of the point of entries (PoEs) under Tsangkha gewog, is working round-the-clock.  Kencho Dukpa said that this has controlled such illegal transit and trade of natural resources.

“The offences were minimal recently,” he said.

The division has deployed about 27 rangers for border patrolling to Lhamoizingkha drungkhag since April.

Lhamoizingkha drungkhag in Dagana shares a border with the Indian States, Assam and West Bengal, and has about 10 entry points. In addition to patrolling the border for trespassing, rangers also patrol and monitor illegal wildlife activities such as poaching, logging and wood smuggling.

Meanwhile, in Tsirang, only 17 illegal activities were recorded since January.

Tsirang CFO Dimple Thapa said that such threats to biodiversity and illegal timber extraction were generally low in the district since many know the importance of sustainable management and use of community forest resources.

“There were incidents in the past where farmers had helped rescue vulnerable wild animals,” she said.

The division has also deployed nine officials for border patrolling in Sarpang since April.

With the foresters deployed along the southern borders and various check points to provide enhanced surveillance since March, officials said that it was also helping to control human-wildlife conflict.

It was reported that human-wildlife conflict in some communities in the southern region has dropped due to increased patrolling activities by foresters.

The officials said that the foresters patrolling along the southern borders don’t have proper safety gears.

“This could pose a risk of infection if they come in contact with an infected person from across the border during patrolling,” an official said.