Saturday, August 4, 2012

Global Tiger Day celebration in Bhutan

                                                               Global Tiger Day  celebration in Bhutan

The conservation of big cats especially tigers, snow leopards and leopards that require large home ranges, is becoming increasingly difficult with an increasing human population, developmental activities, and increasing grazing pressures amongst others. While Bhutan boasts of enough space and promising habitat to support a viable population of breeding tigers in the years to come, the challenges facing tiger conservation are not limited. While strengths for conservation of tigers in Bhutan include people’s support, of late, the increased intensity of livestock predation by tigers has become an issue of concern because of the possible retaliatory killing of tigers by the affected owners of the livestock whose livelihood depends entirely on rearing livestock.

Through our preliminary research in reassessing the tigers in Tongsa forest range under Zhemgang Forest Division, it was confirmed that there are tigers thriving in the government reserve forest ( territorial divisions) which are meant to be meeting the timber supply to the communities. Moreover, the habitat occupied is at close proximity to the settlements and the rate of livestock predation was found to be alarming. If we are to achieve the goal of conserving tigers, their protection  is crucial. In protecting them, communities are the main guardians and therefore the need of  working closely with the communities in the tiger landscape is felt as  a priority.

In 2011, Bhutan observed the Global tiger day on 29th July  to create awareness among the youths. The day was observed with the students and teachers, NGOs and Enforcement agencies. This year (2012), as it was felt necessary, tiger day in Bhutan was celebrated in a remote area of country with the communities of Nubi geog under Tongsa district, a place where tigers have been found to be thriving in the habitat which is prone to livestock-tiger conflict. This year’s theme for the day was Tigers and Communities-Coexisting in harmony for mutual survival”. The Global Tiger Day is an annual celebration to raise awareness for tiger conservation held annually on 29 July and strongly advocated by all the Tiger Range Countries. It was first proposed in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit. The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitat of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.
The day was graced by H.E. Dasho Paljor J. Dorji, Deputy Minister and the Special Advisor to the National Environment Commission as the Chief guest.  H.E is the pioneer in Bhutan’s Tiger conservation. What more can we expect than to have such a global personality on the global tiger day, a man supposed to be old, but who becomes young the moment we talk about tigers.
The day will be remembered as the small and narrow Bjeezam school ground was crowded by over 400 people from Nubi geog and else where with the continuous music of conservation by Mangdee chu. It was also an occasion for the communities to meet their representatives to the parliament as they graced the big day as well. Other participants included the Sector Heads of Trongsa Dzongkhag, officials of Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) and the staff and students of Bjeezam Primary School.   
In Bhutan, this year’s Global Tiger Day was coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Division in collaboration with Wangchuck Centennial Park, Jigme Singye National Park and Zhemgang Territorial Forest Division of the Department of Forests and Park Services. The event was financially supported by Royal Government of Bhutan, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).  I thank all the individuals involved for the grand success of the day. Men in green from WCP,JSWNP and ZFD are highly acknowledged.  Thank you IFAW,WTI and WWF for your concern and support.
To me as an organizer of the event, I feel energized. Energy of conservation is in the store of communities. Getting communities on board is the key and  I (we) got the key for now……………will wait how long this key will remain secured. As long as we can keep the key secured, Tigers in Bhutan have a  hope….a hope for  roaring……. “Let them roar forever” be our prayers and wishes..

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