Human Conflicts with Bears

11 October, Thimphu: Representatives from the Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD) under the Department of Forest and Park Services met with the monks of Tango, Cheri and Taktsang monastery to resolve the human bear conflict issue to the  tsamkhang (hermitage) located near Tango and Cheri  monastery in Thimphu and Taktsang monastery in Paro.

The Himalayan Black Bear was identified to cause the issues. WCD states that as human settlement spread over more land, many bear populations find themselves living in close proximity to humans and human food sources. Attracted to the prospect of an easy meal, wild bears become used to feeding on food and garbage that appear nearby. When these food sources are not properly bear-proofed, encounters with humans become almost inevitable.

In order to reduce the conflict, it is advised to properly manage waste and food. As a proactive measure fencing the compound of the venerable tsamkhang will be carried out, and if it is successful in reducing the conflict, the activity will be carried out to all the tsamkhang.

Of the eight species of Bear, two species are found in Bhutan, the Himalayan Black Bear and the Sloth Bear. A third species known as the blue bear, which arguably considered as the mythical meegoey is also believed to exist in Bhutan.

Himalayan black bears are scattered across the Himalayas from Bhutan to Pakistan. They are most populous in mountainous areas and jungles. They usually inhabit elevations around 1200-4000 masl. They are omnivorous creatures and will eat just about anything. Their diet consists of acorns, nuts, fruit, honey, roots, and various insects such as termites and beetle larvae. If food is scarce, they may turn to eating livestock such as sheep, goats, and cattle. The Himalayan black bear is listed in schedule 1 of endangered species and is protected by national law.

Reported by: Tandin Dorji, ICS

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