Being an agrarian society with major chunk of people depending on agriculture, Bhutan stands to be one country in the world to go organic, a society striving hard to be self sufficient and self reliant. The tortoise race of Bhutan’s mission to be self sufficient and self reliant through agriculture could be the impact of wildlife on farming practices. Needless to say, not in every part of the country is safe from wildlife. The farmers are being challenged every season from the pressures of wildlife. The story could be otherwise in central and rare part of eastern villages where the only sources of conflicts are rats and rabbits. In place like Nichula, Human wildlife conflicts are the rising issues when developments are shooting yearly. The farmers fear the most to wildlife for their crops, and it’s the saga of tasteless food and sleepless nights. And here, I brought you number one fear for two main livelihood sources for the people of Nichula and Karmaling.
1. Fear to lose the only and important source of food the “paddy” plantation.
Rice plantation mostly “Ranjit” and “Khamtey” in few areas are common and important livelihood source for the people of Nichula and Karmaling. It is the only backstopping resources which serve them to thrive a year without having to buy from others if they harvest it safely. Summer and autumn season are the most challenging season for the people despite the season being most important form others. The reason is, “Elephants” are the main issues fighting with time to win over the people in night. If you happen to ask people about the major problem, the direct answer will be the loss of crops to elephants in paddy season. Elephants are not like deer and rabbits; it is dangerous creature which eats a lot and destroys the remaining. I have seen the fact in times of chasing elephant; in fact I have attended 11 times in chasing elephant in the month of August and September. People fear elephant not only with the loss of crops but also with the risk associated with them during time of conflicts. The large animal like mountain speed up like bike on ground and running for safety is less likely. The fun fact is elephants are much used too in selecting the sweetest and delicious crops. “Khamtey” is favorite for it too just like it is favorite for the people. A man from Damchula has planted the crop in mid of Ranjit but often the crop is being raided by elephant. He is the most victimized farmer of the year who has lost paddy to the only and two elephants.
Karmaling is a beautiful place located in the fertile valley of Sunkosh river. The geog is far more developed compared to Nichula because of its connectivity with road to market. The people have lost crops to elephant but not more than people of Nichula. Elephants are being chased from Nichula and Sunkosh River is not a barrier for the animal. The creative and majestic creature swims the river to raid crops. The season is the war for people with elephant otherwise they will have to buy rice a year for survival.
2. Fear to lose the important cash crop, the Areca nut
Areca nut commonly known as “Goa” by the locality is the money fetching cash crop for the people of Nichula and Karmaling. Almost all the dry lands of the people are being covered by the only cash crop unlike the people of eastern and central regions. People hardly cultivate in dry land but is never left empty because they plant areca nut. Many a time, I have been told by people the fear to lose the crop to elephant. It takes years to grow areca nut and it is money fetching income source, if the elephant destroy the crops we are in great loss. Yes, it is the greatest fear because elephants can destroy any crops if it happens to be in the field.
Conservation challenges with Elephants
The hatred for this charismatic creature by the locality is not because of any other reason. It is the destruction that animal posses to the livelihood of people. Challenges on conservation of species are on rise when people start hating the creature. People often speak for translocation measure form their locality. The safety concern and conservation of creature is only to the conservationist like rangers otherwise all elected leaders are the indirect hit in disempowering conservation efforts. The problem associated with the species will remain as long as the civilization live, it is always better to look for better measure in bringing win-win measure. The problem could be solved only if conservationist, local government, people and government work jointly. Conservationist to implement environmental friendly activities like proper solar fencing, local government to support in proper maintenance and reaching quality resources, people to respect and develop sense of belongingness and lastly government to look alternative measures and set effective and corruption free compensation scheme. If not, Elephant will always be the number one fear for the livelihood of people.