Community-based integrated approach for tiger conservation in Dangchu
Community-based integrated approach for tiger conservation in Dangchu
1.1 Project Summary:

The magnitude of flora and fauna extinction globally owing to human activity has been alarming and the situation has been exacerbated by the climate change. An apex predator such as tigers are at the fore of human-wildlife conflict due to habitat loss and dwindling natural prey species, and they are forced to engage in the depredatory attack on livestock. Today, big cats are on the brink of extinction due to poaching, habitat loss, and the brunt of climate change. Devising a diligent conservation framework and proper implementation has been severely necessary, more than ever before. Human involvement is pushing tiger to edge of extinction and over 90% of tiger populations have already been lost, globally (Global Environment Facilities, 2018).

Dangchu Gewog under Wangdue Phodrang Dzongkhag is one of such places in Bhutan where there is increasing incidences of human-wildlife conflict and particularly, livestock depredation by a tiger and retaliatory action by people resulting in the killing of the tiger. In the gewog the poaching tiger for economic benefits is also escalating. The gewog is under the jurisdiction of Wangdue Forest Division. The gewog consists of 266 households living over 5 different Chiwogs. The inhabitants rely predominantly on agriculture and livestock for the primary source of income. In the gewog, only about 346.45-acre land is cultivated of total 492.45 acres of cultivable land available. Over 146 acres of land is kept fallow either due to crop loss to wild animals or lack of climate-smart knowledge and technology for agriculture.

According to the Livestock Survey 2018, the Gewog houses 1,481 cattle of six different bovine species, of which 1,019 were low-yielding local breeds, 5 numbers of high-yielding Mithun Breed (Bos frontalis), 7 numbers of Jersey and Brown Swiss Cross, and 405 were cross breeds of various species. In 2018 alone, the farmers of Dangchu Gewog lost 23 cattle to tigers, incurring economic loss of Nu.1, 380,000. However, in the indiscriminate killing of the tiger (poisoning, snaring, retaliatory and pre-emptive killing), alarming numbers of tiger might have been killed, but it’s extremely difficult to fetch precise figure as a poisoned tiger travels long distances before it succumbs to poison. According to the Global Tiger Centre, there could be about 6 tiger frequenting the gewog.

Currently, Bhutan is ostensibly perceived as one of the safe havens for tiger, but these ever-growing issues need outright mitigative actions and solutions. The Chubar Dendupcholing Community Forest Committee with assistance from the Gewog Administration, Dangchu, Bhutan Ecological Society, and Global Tiger Centre (Gelephu) aspires to promote tiger conservation through economic empowerment of the community and pioneering faith-based conservation approach, aligned to the principles of Buddhism. The prominent cause of livestock depredation by the tiger in Dangchu Gewog is decreasing number of natural prey species in the forest, which is caused as a result of habitat destruction or excessive hunting of prey species by the community to protect food crops. This issue can be addressed by implementing a climate-smart agricultural approach and modern technologies. Cultivation of fodder for cattle will reduce people’s dependency on forest resources causing less disturbance to prey species. In order to reduce crop loss to wild animals, greenhouses will be built using polythene sheets and other raw-materials locally available. High-quality polythene sheet needed for building greenhouses will be supplied by the project. The community will be provided with basic expertise and resources to initiate Shiitake mushroom farming. The technique of growing buffer crops in the areas where there is a high degree of crops raiding by the wild animals; farmers will be provided with the saplings of fruit trees such as improved-variety or Pear and Walnut, extensively.

According to the villagers, most cattle are attacked while they are left free to graze in the forest, and for having above 68% of local breed cattle, owners tend to give less attention and care to this breed of cattle as they are not as economically viable as certain breeds such as Mithun, however, the gewog lacks male Mithun to inseminate females to increase its population. In this respect, the Gewog Administration will help community purchase 5 numbers of male Mithun bulls to increase Mithun population and will be distributed to different chiwogs. High-yielding fodder seeds will also be provided to properly feed this Mithun breed of cattle. The economic empowerment and incentives approach are primarily used to instill tolerance for tigers and other wildlife in the community as this approach is perceived to offset the cost of conflict. Youths and community members will also be engaged in rejuvenating the tiger habitat, fodder and fruit tree plantations. The project aims to create job opportunity for youths through the establishment of a hot stone bath in Tokaling chiwog where auspicious wangchu drupchu is located (holy water), and sole management right will be given to the youths.

Parallelly, implementing faith-based approach could prove to be an effective paradigm of tiger conservation in Dangchu. Since the residents have a deep-rooted faith in Buddhism and the sense of love, respect and compassion for all living beings need to be restored in the community. The religion will be used as a medium of improving people’s attitude towards conservation and promoting good conservation principles through coordinating a religious advocacy program on conservation Choe-Shay Layrim at Dangchu Gewog. Wooden wall paneling of Tshamkhag (meditation houses) and Shedra (classrooms), maintenance of drink water supply, the supply of solar geyser will be carried out at Dechencholing Lhakhang and Dendupcholing Shedra. Three monasteries namely Ugyen Tsemo, Phelleng and Tshegiteng will be solar electrified to enable people to visit those far-situated monasteries and perform religious activities, whenever possible. This project will be more focused on three Chewogs ( Tashidingkha Zimi, Godraang Taagsar, Tokaling Tomla) which are the epicenter of human-tiger conflict in Dangchu.

The Global Tiger Centre (GTC) will assist the society and the Gewog administration in installing camera traps to monitor population dynamics of the tiger in the forest and to substantiate the effectiveness of the project.
The project will begin with Inception Workshop during which, Member of Parliament and Member of National Council from Wangdue Phodrang along with other relevant stakeholder will be invited.

While there are stark efforts for the Department of Forest and Park Services to monitor tiger population, reduce human-tiger conflict and reduce poaching activities by implementing stringent policies, minimum or complete lack of involvement from relevant stakeholders and lack of economic incentives to the communities has made it inefficient. The project is directly related to a number of GEF/SGP Country Program Strategies:

1. Conservation of the big cats;
2. Community engagement and participation;
3. Improvement of livelihoods of the local communities; and
4. Employment generation for the local youths.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Chubar Dendupcholing Community Forest Group
Country:
Bhutan
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
Grant Amount:
US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 3,000.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 10,350.00
Project Number:
BHU/SGP/OP5/Y8/CORE/BCCP/2019/30
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed

Grantee Contact

Mr. Pentsho Penthso
Phone: 17554910
 

Address

Dangchu
Wangdue Phodrang , Wangdue Phodrang , 00975

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Tenzin Wangchuk
Phone:
009752322424
Email:
Mr. Tshering Phuntsho
Phone:
009752322424 (ext:330)
Email:

Address

UN House, Peling Lam (Street), Kawajangsa, Thimphu, P.O. Box No. 162
Thimphu, Bhutan, 11001