Chhimi Dema  

Villagers of Nakha and Rukubjee in Sephu, Wangdue lost more than 30 cattle to two tigers wandering in the gewog between August 1 and September 9.

The Department of Forests and Park Services is in the process of establishing a gewog tiger conservation fund which will compensate the villagers for their losses.

A villager from Rukubjee, Phub Tshering, lost a jersey calf and a cow to the tigers recently.

“This is the first incident of tigers coming to our village and killing cattle,” he said. “We are worried that the tigers might harm even people.”

The villagers consider the tigers coming to the villages as an ill omen. According to local leaders, the gewog administration held a two-day ritual to ward off the negative energy.

Phub Tshering said that it was not clear whether they would receive compensation for their cattle or not.

The presence of tigers in the nearby forest is an indicator of the health of the ecosystem. Tigers are the apex predator of the food chain and keep the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are 103 tigers in the country and about 3,900 tigers worldwide.

Another villager, Khandu, 77, said that his cattle were sent to graze above the house and were killed there.

“This is the first time the villagers see such events. Tigers were seen in the forests before but never near the settlements,” he said.

Villagers performed rituals to ward off the evil

An official from the Wangchuck Centennial National Park said that a Quick Response Team of rangers with support from the gewog administration are monitoring the area and are trying to chase the tigers away. He said that the tigers are two or three years old.

“It seems that the tigers left their mothers and are trying to mark their new territory,” he said.

The official said that if the situation becomes severe with attacks from the tigers, then they will trap the tigers and translocate them.

Although the rangers chased the tigers last month, they reappeared this month.

The official said: “We are keeping records of the animals lost to compensate them fairly if they ever receive.”