Friday, November 2, 2012

With the leading biologists on this planet

Dr. John Sidensticker ( red shirt)  and Dr. A.J.T Johhn Singh (grey shirt)

Text to be soon uploaded

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The evolution of human wildlife conflict scenario: My own perspective

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?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Snow Leopards in Bhutan : Queen of Himalayas

Some say “Mountain ghosts” and some refer to as “Queen of Himalayas”. Me in my own way and to me,  I  can’t  resist to refer them as the” King of Himalayas”, the elusive and cryptic species  “SNOW LEOPARD”.   Bhutan is known for its un-matching biodiversity richness. The per capita of biodiversity richness for a small country like Bhutan would be beyond any doubt be one of  the highest among the countries.  

Untill recent, when camera traps were not deployed for snow leopard survey, irrespective of the concrete evidence reports from the field, many people questioned the true existence.  In normal surveys, FALSE ABSENCE is often a big consideration due to DETECTABILITY  factor, but for snow leopards in Bhutan, it was more of a FALSE PRESENCE. It is at time a big question whether we really have snow leopards in Bhutan.

This is where and when the modern technology rescued conservationists in Bhutan in raising our heads while talking on snow leopards. In a difficult terrain like Bhutan’s, no amount of energy would suffice the search for Himalayan kings, and last resort one would wish for is magic and magical powers. Rugged and in accessible  terrains compounded by high altitudes with low oxygen level  is not only an inhibiting factors for the researchers in Bhutan’s high mountain terrains, but a matter of daring to sacrifice one’s life to struggle with the available oxygen in those places. Up on the mountains, where you feel at the height above most of the places on the planet except for few peaks like EVEREST and its competitor ranges,  one will wish for only one thing, the SNOW LEOPARD rolling on its tail on the snow covered steep slopes.

Findings from the camera trapping effort in the northern protected areas of Bhutan in last 2 years span has proven more than anyone could wish the proof to be.  Numerous individuals have been captured in Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP) and Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP).  Big cats are solitary in nature, but who said that they are lone animals. Like everyone do, they love their families. So is the Snow leopard family in WCP has been captured using the remote camera.

The officials of WCP, disregarding all the above hostile factors gave their best for the conservation and so did they get their best.  Thanks to all the dedicated heroes of WCP. There have been many records of pictorial findings throughout the snow leopard ranges, but to me atleast, three individuals captured on a single shot in a  camera trap is probably the first one ever (pardon me if I have missed any from others parts of the world).

And that is how snow leoopards survive in the KINGDOM of BHUTAN and Bhutan is  a special place for HIMALAYAN KINGS.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Expressing my views in my own ways............: Global Tiger Day celebration in Bhutan

Expressing my views in my own ways............: Global Tiger Day celebration in Bhutan:                                                                Global Tiger Day  celebration in Bhutan     The conservation of big...

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..

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My perspective on NDTV-AIRCEL, INDIA’s Tiger Campaign

15th July, 2012: Sunday is meant to be an off day, a day to relax and rest. For the tigers, tiger lovers and the tiger conservation family, 15th July 2012 (Sunday) will be remembered and rejoiced. NDTV’s noble initiative in collaboration with the AIRCEL NDIA in informing the world and more so campaigning for the conservation of tigers is appreciated and admired beyond words. I am glad that NDTV’s initiative has reminded the world including the poachers and their net works till the end users that it’s high time that we work to  save tigers.  I wish that this has reached to the deaf ears of the greedy illegal net working net work on tiger trade and poaching.

 If we are to succeed with the tiger coservation, to me, India is the energy and only we can if India does,  as India is home to more than half of the worlds tiger population.  It is a delightful moment for me as I spent all my Sunday watching Amitabh Bachchan as an ambassador for the tiger  conservation taking the energetic move on NDTV for the tigers cause. I think this has really amplified the passion for the tiger lovers to Just love more.

 I pay my deepest respect to every individual who are involved in working to save these majestic creatures. As a person working for the same in Bhutan, I salute the field staff in all the tiger reserves of india for exhibiting such an unmatching conservation service.  After 5 years leaving the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy,  seeing the same field people on the NDTV, whom I met during my those by-gone training days still working for the same with same energy is encouraging. I still remember them sharing their experiences and difficulties faced in the field and I am expericencing  exactly what they told me those days. My salute to them.

Encouraging to know that the fund raising initiative for tiger conservation has received a great support  and this is truly and indication that the people have realized the importance of their (tigers) existence.  This is a reflection of  “Better late than never” . I wish that the media agencies in all other 12 tiger range countries adopt this noble initiative as NDTV did. More so, I wish the media agencies in my own country (Bhutan) appreciates the NDTV’s initiative and organize in a similar way. Bhutan has Tigers and they need the similar protection and initiatives.
 If we don’t unite to work together, we will lose them to the hands of few selfish individuals through poaching and illegal trade. Where as, if  we join our hands, then these remaining few numbers of tigers can be a common asset where they become a global asset.

Congratulations for the Rs. 5.81 crore money raised in just 12 hours time for the cause of tiger conservation. Thank you NDTV-AIRCEL for this initiative and your reminder for the noble cause.  I hope the world is listening.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tiger conservation in Bhutan: A legacy from past, a pride of present and a hope for future.

Tiger conservation in Bhutan: A legacy from past, a pride of present and a hope for future.