Livestock kills on the rise

While people in rural residents are reeling under the intensified human wildlife conflict, no studies are done in Bhutan on why it is happening.


Nov 05, 2012

Livestock kills on the rise


In Nubi gewog  more than 100 cattle were preyed on this year alone
Human-wildlife conflict: After a tiger mauled one of its villagers to death in 2010 the small hamlet of Dozhong (Dorji) gonpa in Trongsa has occasionally made news. Since then numerous cattle have fallen prey to tigers. The last kill on October 30 was a young ox.

Villagers of the 11 scattered houses amid oak and pine trees, 17 kms from Trongsa town towards Bumthang, say wild animals have always preyed on their livestock but never like in the recent years.

“When I was young the village lost about five to six cattle to wild animals like tiger, wild dog and leopard,” a 52-year old farmer said. “Tigers would attack only one to two cattle in a year. But these days we can’t even keep track of the loss.”

This plight of intensified livestock depredation is shared by farmers of more than 15 villages of Nubi gewog in Trongsa.

A 57-year old farmer said while wild cats attacking their livestock has been a part of their lives the situation has worsened in recent years. Villagers claim that more than 100 livestock has been lost this year alone.

Village tshogpa (representative) Kezang Jurmi said more than 60 livestock were killed in three villages in his locality in the past 10 months. Tsagay, a farmer from Dozhonggonpa, claimed that more than 60 were killed in his village.

But officials from territorial forest division say only 54 cases were reported. Records maintained by wildlife conservation division indicate that from two reported tiger depredation cases in 2002, it had increased to 54 this year.

It is, however, not known why the conflict had increased in the recent years.

Village elders believe that the numbers of tiger seems to have increased but they do not know by how much. Chimi Dub, 57, said the only probable cause he could think is the increase in the forest cover in the area.

Forest officials say camera traps confirmed the presence of about three tigers in the area. Even leopards were spotted in the camera trap.

While officials working for wildlife conservation pointed out the conflict could have been intensified because the tigers are old and are not able to hunt, there are no studies conducted to prove it. Conservationists are also not in position to say if the tiger numbers have increased in the area.

Meanwhile, farmer Tsagay from Dozhonggonpa, whose ox was eaten by a tiger on October 30, said farmers in the locality might have to leave if the tigers go on predating their livestock.

Tsagay owned more than 15 cattle four years ago but is left with only eight now. “We live in the highland and depend on livestock,” he said.

Many Dozhonggonpa residents claimed they were not compensated for the livestock lost to tigers in 2010 and 2011. “We only got compensation for the livestock that were killed in 2012,” a 32-year-old woman said.

By Tashi Dema

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