High tolerance level has been closely associated with Bhutanese since time immemorial. I personally heard and came across many people from all sections of society, young and old, illiterate and literate, ignorant and learned, poor and rich and so on…often chanting the word ‘jampa and Nyingye’ roughly translated as love and compassion. If everyone practice what they chant, what a lovely world it would be and surely would be true shangrila.
Since my high school days, Buddhist jargon “Dhue ni me jur –Mi nam jur wa yin” ( which means : Time does not change, but humans do) has always struck me and have been longing for a true and worthy answer. Now after completing my studies, this quest still exists in me, but now with more perplexity and mystification. Through my profession as a conservationist, now I feel that I am closer to the awaited answer. Still I am not sure if what I understand and perceive personally really is near to truth.
Our people especially in Bhutan have been living in harmony with nature since time immemorial and so did with the wildlife (wild animals). Predation of domestic livestock by wild animals is nothing new, but just a part of life and that’s the way our fore fathers survived and more so happily survived generation after generations. In the past, when a livestock was killed by wild predator, the most common and traditional answer was faithful blaming on the local deities. It was considered that when a local deity is not pleased with the actions of the individual or community, it often results in to the loss of livestock to wild predators. Therefore, in the past, the present terminology ‘human wildlife conflict’ has been a synonymous to the warning response from one’s local deities. More often, people took such mishaps as a warning from deities to prevent disasters in the family and community. More than anything, wild animals killing livestock were a part of life. Despite complaining and expecting compensation, people used to spend little money they had on performing rituals to please their deities in order to prevent other tragedies.
Today, truly the people have changed and society is changing. The world has become more than materialistic and everywhere is a show of competitions. Livestock predation by wild predators still continues, but no more a local deity factor now. The then local deity factor has been replaced with the greed factor and thus the media catchy phrase HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT attracts the attention.
After knowing that government is trying to pay a minimum compensation (consolation) for the livestock lost to wild predators, the response from the people have really changed. A change that is inclined towards greed. Everyone wants money as a compensation for their livestock killed, but no one wants to spare the predator given a chance to kill it. There is no talk of the unpleased local deity and tolerance. Does it mean that due to over use of’ jampa and Nyingye ‘ (love and compassion) in schools that it got totally exhausted? Or is it a monetary magnet that is constantly repelling the local deity stigma. We (people) are not at all ready to accept that we are encroaching on the habitat of wildlife by virtue of being ourselves a superior being. Would such things have happened if the animals were superior to us?. May be YES, may be NOT. At times, the existence and seldom predation on the domestic cattle of influential families reaches to the house of the peoples representatives. What would happen if these wild animals (ecological guardians ) too have an equal right to vote for electing the representatives of the national assembly. At times, as a biologist, I just wish that they do have that right too, so that their rights are protected as well.
These days, people are too honest to declare that they want to kill the predators? May be they are right because they (farmers) are over victimized, but people (I refer to people reporting and taking people’s views and not considering the right of wild animals) trying to give every right to people and treating wild animals and their guardians (foresters) as close to terrorist associate is inhumanly treatment. Does this testify our superiority over animals?........
Is the time also changing? Are we less religious than our previous generations? Are we becoming less Buddhist? Is there a decrease in local deities? Has our deities been transferred to other planet? Are wild animals killing more livestock today than before? Are we getting greedy? Or …… Are we (people) changing?