The problem of the human-wildlife conflict is getting more intense now that what we were seeing some years ago.
Earlier in the past many of the problems hovered around wild animals damaging crops and vegetables to farmers losing their corn plants and potatoes to monkeys and wild boars, and wild elephants uprooting betel-nut trees in southern parts of the country.
However, today we are seeing a different problem of some sort. A little more than a week ago, we saw two men in Jangbi village in Langthel gewog, Trongsa attacked by a leopard that entered their house on the night of September 27. The victims suffered injuries to their faces and head, and they were referred to the national referral hospital.
Similarly, there was also an account a few days back about a leopard intruding in one of the houses in the same village at around 7pm. However, there were no reports of harm caused to humans or animals this time.
Further, there was also a report of a tiger having killed three cows and a calf at Tshangkha chiwog, Tangsibji gewog in Trongsa, last month.
Going by these cases, farmers are not only bearing the damages caused by the wild animals on their fields and animals, but also the risks posed by them on their lives and livelihood.
The issue of the human-wildlife conflict is, meanwhile, not new. There are reports of many strategies and approaches being put in place by the government over the years, but little has helped to solve the problem.
Meanwhile, one way that the farmers are not at a loss and deterred from farming practice because of the human-wildlife issue is to come up with a compensation package and ensure monetary compensation for the damages caused by the wild animals on their crops and livestock.
Unfortunately, there is no compensation package of any sort to the farmers in such cases presently. A compensation package becomes important and necessary if we want to stop something like retaliatory killing. Further, one important thing is that the monetary compensation must be equal and or should have minimal differences to the actual loss incurred by the farmers.
One reason why the earlier compensation package, where the Gewog Conservation Committee would pay 75% and the remaining 25% injected by the government for the loss of an animal to farmers, didn’t work is that the farmers were poorly compensated. They were compensated, say, with Nu 700 officially, when they could fetch Nu 7,000 by taking their dead animal to the market.
This is where the government can intervene and create an enabling conditions where our farmers are not at a loss. The absence of a genuine desire with a long-term solution to the problem is what seems to be aggravating the problem.