Bhutan: only livestock killed by snow leopards and tigers is covered by government compensation

Layaps livid with leopards
 A trio of tamzees is attacking livestock at will with no fear of consequence 28 September, 2009 – The Layaps are paying what they call the “price of the government’s conservation effort” as their cattle fall prey to wild animals. This time, it’s the tamzee (leopard) that is killing domestic animals.

A lone tamzee has killed 11 horses in the gewog since February this year, according to villagers. “Four of them fell prey to the leopard in just one month in Pazhu and Langothang,” said a farmer, Lhaba Situb from Toko village.A royal hunter, in Tsarijathang, Tshering, said that the leopard entered the three huts belonging to yak herders and took away the calves and a dog. Farmers said they are encountering tamzee at close range. “Last year, we only saw two leopards wandering, but this year three of them are attacking at different places,” said a villager from Pazhi, Rinchen.Villagers said there was little they could do as protective measures against the leopard. “We want the government to kill the predator or give us the permission to kill them,” said an angry villager. “The rule says we can kill if wild animals are within 200 m, but they’re killing our cattle in our sheds.” Others said that, even if the rule allowed them to kill, there was no use killing since they can’t consume the meat. Laya falls in the Jigme Dorji national park (JDNP), a government protected area. Forest guard Thinley Dorji said that farmers approached him asking to shoot down the leopards or give them the permission to kill them. He said that leopard attacks are common at this time of the year.The people of Laya have been requesting the government to bring down the numbers of leopards, but they are not permitted to kill. Laya gup Kinley Dorji told Kuensel that they get half the cost of their animal from the government as compensation if either tigers or snow leopards killed their animals.“If government could pay half the cost of the animal as compensation, we’ll be happy as we aren’t allowed to kill the animal,” said Phurba Tshring, a farmer from Pazhi, who lost his best mule to a leopard. “ I bought it recently for Nu 28,000.”Thinley Dorji said the villagers would not get any compensation from the government for livestock killed by a common leopard like the tamzee. “Until 2006, there was compensation, but now it’s only for livestock killed by tigers and snow leopards,” said the forest-guard. “There’s nothing we can do,” he said.Mangmi Lhaba Tshering told Kuensel that the issue of bear and leopard attacks on animals in the gewog was discussed in the dzongkhag yargye tshogdue (DYT). “Farmers are allowed to retaliate if the animal is within 200 m of their homes, but most of us don’t have the weapons or equipment to do anything,” he said. “All we did so far was inform the dzongkhag and JDNP. Someone should do something.”By Gyem Thinley 

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