It was exactly 5:30 am when we started our journey along the border within the enchanting environment of Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary. The sun was below the horizon, to soak in to its sunbeams, we got to wait for an hour which otherwise would delay us to reach Lhamoyzingkha. Packing the lunch after having heavy breakfast, the car carrying 15 people dropped us in the jungle beyond which the road stops. From there, we got to walk and complete two days journey in a day. At first, many seem to be apprehensive just like me by location of its trail along border but as the pace continues and folds the path, everyone seems to be chasing the big pleasures of life. Stars started to fade with sunrise dominating the moonlit and noticed we are almost quarter to destination. As the time melted into hours, I noticed we are in the middle of the magnificent, lush and green forest walking and observing the beauty. But, as we ventured in the inner core of the sanctuary, I observed the pressures on resources are very intensive by ambitious and selfish people of neighbor.
The incidence just as I perceived won’t be needless to anyone who live in Bhutan. Bhutan is known for biodiversity champion not only because of its rich biodiversity but we are also committed towards conserving and meeting conservation goals. But, the sad part of the story is not in every part of Bhutan’s forest has equal and same strength. Bottlenecked by diverse reason, the goals and mandates are challenged making it difficult to those implementers especially the forester. Many in the past, the rangers of Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary have fixed poachers and outsiders for the illegal entry and activities but the incidences never stop. For those interested conservationist just like I pour usual views, I optimistically unfolds my observation which would make us thoughtful and derive some solutions together for the betterment of our future resources.
Observation 1: Pressure on Sal and Other Trees
Categorized as special class tree by the Rules and Regulation, the Sal trees along the border are challenged with immense pressure from outsiders. For, a true Bhutanese it’s very sad to see our resources being exploited by outsiders when we restrict to our local people. It may be needless for some to allot that tress to our local people because we feel the trees are limited and has to be preserved. But the fact is resources are being lost while we strive to conserve and preserve. It’s sad to see our people with lengthy forms to remove trees even from registered land when we could not stop the pressure from outsiders. Our people have to wait for approval even for death special trees in registered land while outsiders cherish our live trees along borders.
Observation 2: Ecosystem damage and Habitat modification
If you happen to visit, you would see roads being paved in the forest. The roads paved freely by outsiders for transport of trees and resources in carts. Following those roads would mislead because the roads are many and crisscrossed. In our reality, local people are charged for slight encroachment in state reserve forest but sad part is we cannot do anything to outsiders who strive hard to derive their happiness through our resources. It is totally unfair for me and sad to see others enjoying our resources and disheartening thing to see our people begging when they are caught with some beyond rules activities. Illegal activities must be stopped I totally agree and support but before stopping inside we must stop outsiders getting into our resources.
Current Measures and Challenges:
Some may be thinking, what are the foresters of that place doing? I should convince you are wrong if you are thinking. The paramilitary of borders are challenged not only with climatic conditions but also with man power and equipment. We are four in number, in fact you won’t believe if I say a range is run by four staffs. What can four people do in border to face the challenge of increasing outside pressure to our forest? We remain here with monthly SMART patrolling and fixing those local people with illegal activities. We deliver service just like many range and office do. But, we can’t do anything even if we wish to conduct long patrolling and fix outsiders because we are limited in numbers.
Future Scope and Improvements
We the department and ministry must think and rich the staffs along the borders. Rather than fixing our local people with fines and penalties for cherishing our own resources it is important to stop outsiders cherishing our assets. The allotment of staffs in most range and divisions has to be looked at and give more priority to those in borders because it always better to stop others getting in rather than fixing our own. The issue can only be solved, if the region is given with enough staffs and resources. To be a forester in southern Bhutan won’t be choice to many because those are the region which needed special focus. The forester has to be well equipped and be ready for all times. The park in the past years has incidences of staffs being ambush and lost their lives. Time has ripe for better equipment and weapons to get our staffs ready. If this can’t be done, the problem will be on rise. WHAT DO YOU SAY?
Every one turns with morbid and ghost like expression with pale eyes when arrived at lhamoyzingkha. The strenuous journey took an hour for staffs to glow radiantly at the campfire which started at 6 pm. But, the astounding odyssey has made everyone so vibrant and alive though tiresome because just like me, it is of the first kind to many. The impeccable journey of the south under the spectacular environment has fulfilled the dream that I have longed for. It is the perfect setback for me today, to have a toothy grin liberating time with perfect memories.