Following the historic event of St. Petersburgh, where the Governments of TRCs and Conservation partners came together to pledge support for doubling the remaining tiger population by the year 2022, the Governments of Range Countries thereafter celebrate July 29 of every year as the Global Tiger Day. This symbolic gesture among the range countries acknowledge that the Tiger is one of the most important indicators of a healthy ecosystem, and failure to reverse declining population trends will result in not only the loss of Tigers, but also a loss of biological diversity throughout Asia, together with tangible and intangible benefits provided by these magnificent cats and the ecosystems they inhabit.
Recognizing the importance of tiger in Bhutan, like in the past, the Department of Forests & Park Services under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests will be celebrating this year’s tiger day with the theme “Empowering Local Communities for Tiger Conservation” at Norbuling Middle Secondary School, which is located in the buffer zone of Royal Manas National Park, a place also considered to be a hotspot for wild felids particularly the tiger. Tigers in Bhutan have strong affiliation and revolve very closely around the daily lives of the Bhutanese. Some of the common lore on Bhutanese tiger is that the Buddhist saint and teacher, Guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism to Bhutan riding on the back of a flying tigress at Taktsang, and several paintings and scrolls in religious centre show tiger as one of the four protector animals in the “Tag Seng Chung Druk” quartet (the other three animals being the mythical Snow Lion, Garuda and Dragon) thereby indicating great reverence of this species in Bhutanese society. Ecologically, it stands at the top of the food chain, and its presence in the Bhutanese forest symbolizes the well-being of many other species living with it including their function to control the population of ungulates like serow, sambhar, barking deer, wild pig and even few primates, otherwise leading to catastrophic events among the Bhutanese farmers.
While, the government of several range countries are coupled with the challenge of conserving tigers due to habitat destruction and illegal trade in tiger parts, Bhutan’s conservation policy recognizes the co-existence of humans and wildlife with the exception that this close co-existence is not without conflict, as Tigers often prey on livestock thereby inviting retaliatory measures from subsistence farmers. To protect the Tigers, the government began offering cash compensation to affected farmers through community-based livestock insurance and alternative livelihood practices, often in the face of severe resource constraints within the government.
We also believe that, while conservation of Tigers is primarily a national responsibility, cooperation and coordination of similar efforts among Tiger range countries is essential. In this regard, we’re very happy to include our Indian Counterparts from across the border and due to the close proximity of the venue to the Indian State of Assam, fourteen officials comprising of field director, wildlife managers, Scientist and forestry officers are expected to join the Bhutanese officials in observing the Global Tiger Day in Bhutan. The Bhutanese officials will comprise of senior officials from DoFPS Headquarters to be lead by the Director General, Chiefs and Park Managers of Protected Areas, local communities along with their Gups and Mangmis from Chuzegang, Sershong, Tarithang and Umling Gewogs under Sarpang Dzongkhag, Dasho Dzongda and sector heads from Sarpang Dzongkhag and the Military officers and Dasho Dungpa of Gelephu Dungkhag. Representatives of donor agencies from WWF, WTI/IFAW and BTFEC are expected to participate.
The program for this event includes cultural program by the NFE and school children, inter-school art and skit competition along with display of exhibits on tiger conservation and related activities. The financial support is provided by the WWF-Bhutan Program, Wildlife Trust of India and International Fund for Animal Welfare (WTI/IFAW), Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation and Royal Government of Bhutan.
-Submitted by: Wildlife Conservation Division, DoFPS
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