A holistic answer to human-wildlife conflict
Hence, the National Plant Protection Centre (NPPC) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests held its first training session on Human-Wildlife Safe System and Rapid Assessment Tool last week. WWF’s Safe System management is a holistic approach that involves making the system - people, wildlife, livestock and habitat - safe.
Most of Bhutan’s vulnerable farming communities reside either close to protected areas (parks and biological corridors) or in reserved forests. Finding the balance between the dual objectives of economic development and conservation is therefore a critical challenge.
The loss of crops and livestock in poor rural areas can have a devastating impact to households, while the retaliatory killing of wildlife is a challenge to long term conservation and maintenance of national biodiversity.
Several mitigation measures such as sound and light repellent and electric fencing have been tested and tried in the field with some success. However, the “Human Wildlife Safe System Approach”, an interdisciplinary holistic approach, will be adopted to address all issues; recognizing the human dimensions of human-wildlife conflict; to rapidly mitigate urgent wildlife problems; and to also prepare strategies that will ensure safety of human and their assets, wildlife habitats and wildlife itself in longer term. Safe Systems is also an emerging concept in the field of HWC management globally
This is the first activity of the WWF supported project - “Human-wildlife conflict management and improving food security in Bhutan”- towards which a grant of Nu. 8.83 million was signed with the Royal Government recently. The project will also support 65 km of the electric fencing in HWC hotspots as an interim prevention strategy in Mongar, Wangdue, Trongsa and Zhemgang Dzongkhags (Districts).
Meanwhile, the Human-Wildlife Safe System and Rapid Assessment Tool training is aimed at imparting knowledge on safe system approaches and build capacity of the stakeholders to assess HWC and develop practical nationwide solutions.
The team is currently in the field conducting the Rapid Assessment of Human-Wildlife Conflict in the selected districts.