Langthel gewog in Trongsa is the worst affected by wildlife attacks

HWC: After one of the tigers that prowled Simpho village in Trongsa was killed about a month ago, no livestock have been lost to the predator although villagers say tigers  continues to prowl the village.

While the person who killed the tiger was released on bail last week according to a village tshogpa, the Nubi-Tangsibji Member of Parliament (MP) Nidup Zangpo recently raised the issue of compensation for wild life attacks.

MP Nidup Zangpo, during the question and answer session of the National Assembly on December 4, sought clarification from the agriculture minister on the compensation packages paid to villagers who lost their livestock to tigers.

He said, villagers of Nubi gewog, particularly Dorji Goenpa in Trongsa are solely dependent on livestock for their livelihood but tigers have long remained a threat to their livelihood.

“It is worse in small family households, where people are forced to go to their neighbours’ home to spend the night,” he said.

Records with Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD) show that at least 10 livestock were lost each month to tigers, snow leopard and the Himalayan Black Bear in the last four years.

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

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said incidences of wild animals attacking livestock are common across the country. For that a compensation system was put in place since 2003 after colleting a donation of Nu 10M from foreign donors.

However, the method of providing compensation was stopped two years later after it was found unsustainable.

Since 2010 a designated body-Gewog Environment Conservation Committee- was formed to address the compensation issues.

The Trust Fund was established in seven gewogs in 2012, which reached 26 in 2013. As of 2015, a total of 56 gewogs have Trust Funds with amount between Nu 300,000 to 500,000 each. The money is maintained for payment of compensation to the human-wildlife conflict, affected villagers.

To ensure that the compensation system sustained, villagers in the gewogs contribute to the Trust Fund. Amount of contribution from villagers differed from each gewog. It depends on the number and breed of livestock they owned.

For instance, lyonpo said, Bjena gewog in Wangduephodrang has 400 households, 40 of which are members of the Trust Fund. They contribute Nu 50 a year as insurance for a Thrabam breed and they receive Nu 1,000 as compensation for loses of that breed to the wild animals. Similarly Nu 200 for Jatsham breed is paid for which farmers receive Nu 5,000 in compensation.

“Of the 205 gewogs, Langthel is the worst affected by wildlife, where 75 cattle heads were attacked this year alone, followed by 51 in Nubi and 31 in Tangsibji,” lyonpo said adding that the agriculture ministry is continuing to establish Trust Funds in other gewogs.

Nirmala Pokhrel