Just drive through the winding road from Yonkala to Thridangbi village under Saling Geog, Mongar Dzongkhag, one might see bountiful maize field located either adjacent to their houses or forested areas. Maize in these villages is one of the main cash crops grown normally twice in a year. They earn cash income by selling maize to the road travelers in the form of beaten maize (Tangma), raw corn (Ashoom) or powdered maize (Tangma bokpee).
Majority of the people in these villages are solely dependent on maize crops. Any depredation of maize crops or poor production of maize would affect their sustenance of livelihood. Unfortunately, amongst all wild animals, Monkey has been their shareholders of maize crops ever since from the time of their great ancestors. Their hard works are gone in vain when a troupe of Monkey gets into their field and eats up and smashes all their maize. One person people have to be engaged around the clock to guard maize field from Monkeys. Otherwise, this people would have worked and earn more. Farmers in these villages always looked forward to guard their maize fields but they couldn’t find other ways and means to get ride of this problematic animal so that they get pretty good harvest of maize crop and generate more income.
Time has rightly stepped in when Memmey Tshewang Dorji, ex-Gup from Tsamang Geog, Mongar brought in an innovative idea of introducing tiger doll to guard Monkey from the maize field. People in those villages are now no more going to be worry-guts of Monkeys which is used to be onerous for the farmers.Tiger dolls are playing crucial role in guarding monkey from the maize field.
According to the villagers, the idea of such introduction of tiger doll had really saved their time and crops from being depredated by the Monkeys. Now they can do lot more work than they use to be when there is no tiger doll. More numbers of families are seen working alongside roads selling maize products to the road travelers and in the other fields. According to farmers they said that Monkeys get frightened when they see tiger doll in their maize field. They make loud noises, screamed and run away and they never come back to their maize fields. Some farmers said that Monkeys are not afraid of tiger doll when they see domesticated animals found nearby the tiger doll. Therefore, they never keep their domesticated animals near to tiger doll. The cost of the tiger doll ranges from Nu.1500-Nu.2500. They order doll from Mongar shopkeepers. Farmers are in desperate need of a tiger doll which can roar like real tiger by using remote control from their houses. This, they said would be more effective to guard from Monkeys.
Especially in the eastern Bhutan, one of the nuisance animals which damages their crop is Monkey.Nothing can stop this animal from attacking their maize despite exhausted yelling. They can climb up the fence or penetrate through the fences. Support and encouragement from park management /RGoB and NGO’s on their innovative idea generated within their own environment would be a best mitigation measures to reduce human-wildlife conflict and specifically in reducing human-monkey conflicts which still exists in other parts of Dzongkhag. From ecological stand point of view, this measure is one of the environmentally friendly mitigation measures to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. It would be much cheaper to buy this tiger doll rather than going for installation of solar or electric fencing around the fields which involves huge money.
A mitigation measure of this kind against crop damage by the monkey is expected to contribute towards safeguarding food security and income generation for the farmers in our country. Only thing, we need to intervene for them is to train how to go for site selection, positioning and covering of dolls and add value to the existing practice. At the moment, people are placing tiger doll under Umbrella or CGI sheet, which Monkey might slowly notice. If few ideas are added and improved on the existing practice, then it’s going to increase its effectiveness and efficiency of using tiger doll to frightened and drive away Monkey from the maize fields.
Contributed by: Jangchuk Gyeltshen, Sr.Park Range Officer-II, Central Park Range, TNP
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