Rather than wait for govt. intervention, villagers may have to take the initiative themselves

Wildlife: Although villagers of Wangphu gewog, Samdrupjongkhar are adamant that they have been promised an electric fencing during the agriculture minister’s visit about a month ago, the minister said he did not promise but suggested that they install electric fencing to combat the human wildlife conflict.

With increasing wildlife attacks, an issue the gewog has been tackling for decades, villagers said the tshogpa informed them that the ministry would look into the issue, and assured an electric fencing, along with a one-stop shop.  It has been more than a month now.  Villagers said they have neither heard anything from the gewog office on the status of electric fencing nor the farmers shop.

Villagers said they have lost all hopes.  With frequent attacks from deer, monkeys, and wild boar, villagers said they hardly reap what they sow. The villagers mostly grow maize, buckwheat, and vegetables, but lose more than half of what they grow to the wild animals.

Farmer Sangay Nidup, 42, said they have raised the issue several times but in vain. “We’re hoping that the village will get an electric fencing to protect our fields from wildlife attacks,” he said.

Although villagers have not seen what an electric fencing looks like, they said, gauging from what they’d heard, the electric fencing would help them enormously to combat the increasing human wildlife conflict.

Gewog administrative officer, Sonam Dorji, said they have not received any information on the electric fencing so far, and that it was not in the 11th Plan either.

“But we’ve also not followed up on this matter from the gewog, as of now,” he said, adding there were other development plans to complete, after the gewog was delineated as a separate gewog in 2006.

Gomdar agriculture extension officer, Tsheten Dukpa, said that they have also not heard of anything about the electric fencing, nor was it there in the Plan.

“The villagers could have misunderstood what the minister said, as the minister suggested that they could install an electric fencing with monetary and labour contribution from villagers, while the department would help procure the materials,” he said. “The gewog could come up with the solution using gewog development grant.”

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that he suggested villagers install electric fencing, as a kilometre would cost about Nu 35,000 that covers about 70 acres of land.

“When divided among households, each one of them pays about Nu 500,” lyonpo said. “We’ll help them procure the materials and bear the transportation cost, besides sending technicians to install the fence.”

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said, as a remote gewog, the ministry might consider an electric fencing for the gewog in future, when there is enough fund.

Regarding the farmers shop, lyonpo said, as soon as the gewog identifies a place, the shop would be established.

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Wangphu