-Strengthening harmonious balance between human and wildlife
27th March 2012, Thimphu–WWF Bhutan officially handed over a matching fund of Ngultrum Two Million to Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD), Department of Forests & Park Services (DoFPS) for the Endowment Fund. Established on 8th April, 2011 by WCD, the fund seeks to initiate community-based sustainable funding mechanism for payment of cash compensation for wildlife damages to crops and livestock. The fund also aims to devolve the management of HWCs to communities over time by building their capacity.
Human wildlife conflicts (HWCs) has been recognized as one of the biggest challenge for conservation in Bhutan with over 75% of the country’s population depending directly on agriculture and livestock production for their livelihoods.
Records from the department confirms that between 2003 and December 2011, 123 livestock were killed by bears, about a 100 by snow leopards, 1,098 by other leopards and more than 500 by Tigers.
WWF recognizes HWCs as a global concern existing where wildlife and human population coexist and share limited resources. While it is of utmost importance to ensure environment conservation, yet at the same the aspirations of villagers cannot be ignored at any cost. Finding the right balance is only way forward.
In an effort to reduce HWCs, WWF Bhutan’s Sustainable Livelihood program has been providing affected communities with tailor made solutions to reduce and/or compensate the impact through innovative strategies like alarm fencing, solar electric fencing, compensation systems, community based tourism, endowment funds and crop insurance schemes.
WWF Bhutan’s Conservation Director, Mr. Vijay Moktan, said “HWCs is complex and is the end result of the multitude of factors and reactions between them. The factors can be demographic, economic, institutional and technological. It is more common in places where human population and wildlife coexist and share limited resources. Complete eradication of this problem within short timeframe is difficult but not impossible to mitigate, provided we better understand the dynamics of conflicts and apply appropriate management options”.
The Fund management depending on the availability of funds aims at institutionalizing conservation committees at grassroots level also known as Gewog Conservation Committee (GCC) in 205 Gewogs (blocks) in the country. Therefore, WWF support will also go towards funding the formation of GCC’s in 7 gewogs across the county.
“HWCs in Bhutan is increasingly becoming a challenge for the success of our conservation. The impact is felt mainly by our predominantly poor rural farmers who depend on agricultural farming and livestock rearing for their livelihood. Peaceful coexistence between farmers and wildlife can only be made possible when the losses that our farmers suffer are adequately and timely compensated for. And this is possible only when we have a sustainable mechanism of funding such programs as is envisioned by this human wildlife conflict management fund” said Sonam Wangdi, Head, Human Wildlife Conflict Management Section, WCD.
“HWCs in Bhutan is experienced by our farming community in mainly two different facets; crop damage by wild elephants, primates and other ungulates and livestock kill by predators. There never can be a permanent solution to HWCs; a solution that works for one is not always a solution for another. We continuously need to devise mechanisms to mitigate these conflicts and these mechanisms are best devised by the sufferers or in other words, farmers. That is why it is very important to hand over the management of human wildlife conflicts to the farmers and this is possible only through the formation of local conservation committees. These committees are formed through the institutionalization of community based insurance programs which is funded solely through this human wildlife conflict management fund.” said Sonam Wangchuk, Chief Forestry Officer, WCD, DoFPS.
For more information:
On the Endowment Fund, contact: Sonam Wangdi, Forestry Officer, WCD, DoFPS, MoAFS email@example.com
On the project, contact: Dechen Yeshi, Asst. Program Officer, WWF Bhutan firstname.lastname@example.org