Organisations and individuals wishing to carry out tshethar activities should henceforth register as a non-governmental organisation with the Civil Society Organisation Authority, according to new guidelines.

Tshethar is a practice of rescuing animals from being slaughtered.

Developed by the agriculture ministry, the guidelines aim to minimise the impact of tshethar animals on the environment and crops and to ensure welfare of the animals, among others.

Senior veterinary officer with Department of Livestock, Karma Wangdi (PhD), said that the guideline would regulate the tshethar groups or tshogpas and the issues concerning tshethar practice.

He said that although record was not available, there was a growing practice of people leaving the animals unattended after the rescue.

“There are also cases of disease outbreaks in the country, especially HPAI,” Karma Wangdi said. “For example, people bring in poultry birds from the border town, which is also illegal and carry risk of diseases.”

The guidelines also aim to reduce the detrimental effects caused by tshethar animals to the communities such as damage to the crops and household pastureland. The guideline highlights types of animal species for tshethar purpose, source of tshethar animals, carrying capacity of the animal shelter and issuance of movement permit, among others.

BAFRA’s senior regulatory and quarantine officer, Kinley Penjore, said that there were cases where tshethar practice was becoming a business.

He said that the guidelines would ensure that animals are provided adequate feed, fodder, and water. Tshethar animals would have identification marks; caretakers would be appointed. The guidelines stipulate that the purchase of tshethar animals should be done in the presence of livestock department and BAFRA.

“This will make bringing fish from across the border for tshethar illegal because it affects our river ecology,” Kinley Penjore said. “Fines will be levied on people who fail to adhere to the guidelines.”

He said that the guideline was developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the existing tshethar tshogpa, registered CSOs, local leaders, and the Dratshang Lhentshog.

“We will conduct mass advocacy on the guidelines soon,” Karma Wangdi said.

The guideline also ensures that rescued animals are provided welfares like physiological needs, social needs, behavioural needs, and environmental needs.

If a tshethar tshogpa or custodian of animals fails to comply with the prescribed animal welfare standards, they will be imposed a fine of Nu 500 per animal after the first warning or up to every 50 birds as per the livestock rules and regulations of Bhutan 2017.

Besides Bhutan Animal Rescue Centre, Jangsa Animal Saving Trust, and Royal Society for Protection and Care of Animals, no other tshethar tshogpa has applied for a CSO status yet.

Yangchen C Rinzin