With wild boars and elephants rampaging farmers’ fields every year, local leaders of Sarpang Dzongkhag urged forestry officials to make necessary and effective measures to save the crops without causing harm to the wild animals.
Local leaders during the Fourth Dzongkhag Tshogdu last week say that wildlife predating the crops has become rampant despite various measures taken to protect farmers’ crops.
They added that human wildlife depredation has not only destroyed crops and caused loss of lives of domestic animals, but it has also resulted in human casualties. These leaders accordingly advised forestry officials to take best measures while also ensuring safety of the wild elephants.
Meanwhile, many farmers in most of the gewogs in Sarpang have become victims of wild animals, especially elephants which make huge destruction despite many restrictions imposed by the forest department.
Chuzergang Gup Sangay Tshering said forest officials need to support the local leaders and the farmers to strengthen measures like electric fencing and other measures, which can prevent these animals from invading the farms.
“The situation has become desperate and calls every relevant stakeholder to cooperate and work,” he said.
And although every gewog has installed electric and solar fencing to safeguard the crops, these local leaders say that it is ineffective.
The local leaders also alleged that forestry officials don’t disclose any information even if the latter are tracking the movement of these wild animals and are aware of their presence.
“It would help us if we are informed earlier,” Gelephu Gup Ugyen Dorji said, adding that the repeated invasion and destruction of crops have demotivated the farmers to grow crops.
The local leaders also discussed on the requirement of experts to operate electric fencings. According to the local leaders, most of the electric fences installed in the fields are defunct.
“Once installed, these fences are unattended due to lack of expertise. While some ask help from the locals, the others just leave unattended. We would be grateful if an expert is provided to each gewog,” Ash Man Rai, Shompangkha Tshogpa said.
Meanwhile, Tareythang gewog has mostly been bearing the brunt of wild animals as it shares boundary with the Royal Manas National Park and that many elephants come from areas near the park.
The gewog’s Mangmi, Dhan Man Gurung, said the gewog lost four cows and around 90 areca nut trees last year to wild elephants.
Sershong Mangmi Ugyen Tshering said without immediate action from the forestry officials despite informing them on time, a majority of the crops would be destroyed by the elephants.
“We feel like we are cultivating for them. A herd of elephants takes turn and feeds on the crops of the farmers for months,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer Chimi Wangchuk said the government has initiated various measures like crop insurance scheme to compensate the farmers.
“We have other plans in the 12th Plan to help the farmers too,” he said.
Records with the Dzongkhag Agriculture Office show that elephant predation has destroyed 80 banana plants, 1,337 areca nut trees, two coconut trees in Sarpang Dzongkhag. Around 8.07 acres of paddy and 2.96 acres of maize were also reported to be destroyed by the herd of jumbos. Also, 354kgs of stored maize and 65kgs of stored paddy were also reportedly destroyed.
Sarpang Dzongkhag Tshogdu’s Thrizin Nim Dorji Sherpa, meanwhile, asked whether researches were conducted by the forestry officials on wildlife invasion to crops and the level of damages.
On the cases of human and domestic animals casualties, the Thrizin said the department needs to study the impact of the damages done to them and come with effective measures.
“We request the forest department to make proper planning where the community and wildlife can thrive in harmony,” he said.
Krishna Ghalley from Sarpang