The ugly side of human-wildlife conflict

Human-wildlife conflict in Bhutan is a war waging between the two species of creatures for the ever dwindling space to exist and it is the wildlife that is on the losing side.

Forestry officials claim that human-wildlife conflict is a serious concern to wildlife conservation. The conflict is said to be more prevalent in the recent years. This, they explained, is mainly due to explosion of human population that exert pressure on forest areas, development expansion, global climate change, and other human and environmental factors which put people and wildlife in greater direct competition for a dwindling resource base.

All these factors exert direct pressure on the habitats of the wildlife and when they have no space, they risk their lives while trespassing into the human domain. Most of the wildlife land up getting killed.

People clear forests areas for cultivation and they build numerous modern infrastructures on the land. Climate change is not making it any easier for the wildlife as natural resources dry up and they cannot adapt to the change.

This is evident from the numerous incidences of wildlife emergence that the people in Paro valley witnessed. “The incident has drastically enlarged owing to rampant increase of human- wildlife conflict,” said a Paro forest official. He added it is also due to encroachment by biotic pressure in wildlife habitat through various means of deforestation, forest fire, penetration of miscellaneous roads, stretching of transmission lines, etc.”

The Social Forestry and Wildlife Section (SFWS) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Paro is determining that the such emergence of wildlife is due to the drying up of forest that results in the scarcity of food and ultimately roving down to the greener pasture.

Animals while roving down to the greener pasture, the forest officials believe that animals are being confronted to various impediments in human habitat that lead to an impulsive fright.

It is said that the current mechanism of transporting injured wildlife and releasing it back to their home results to the death of many wildlife as per that record maintained by SFWS. This is because when the forest officials attempt to rescue, the animals get intimidated and lose their energy while struggling to find ways to escape.

Further the officials who are involved in safe releasing of the wildlife lack the accurate treatment and medication accessible within their competence to take care of the wounded animals. Supplementing to such setbacks, Bhutan lack of rehabilitation spot where injured animals would be treating and taken care of.

However, according to the record maintained by the SFPS in Paro, about 21 wildlife has occurred in human habitat since October 2012 from which 11 were safeguarded and released, while 8 succumbed to death and two were referred to Taba Rehabilitation in Thimphu.

Among 21 animals reported to have visited to the human habitat, 14 of them were deer and seven were sambar.

source: The Bhutanese, 27 Sept 2013

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