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Night guarding 6 months a year to protect potatoes from wild animals ​

The Poverty-Environment Initiative

Sangay, who is well into her Sangay years, explains us that night guarding is a harsh task.  

At 5 in the morning, after sunrise, Sangay can go back home.

Human wildlife conflict is a widespread problem in rural Bhutan. Leopards, elephants, tigers, wild pigs, black bears and porcupines are among the animals that cause the most trouble to rural communities.  

Since ancient times, people have been trying to guard their crops night guarding, constructing fences with stones, or using barwire and alarm fencing.

Loss of crops and livestock can represent unbearable losses for rural populations. As a result, killings of wildlife are the easy way of out.

In 2011 the Poverty-Environment Initiative with the Representation Office of Denmark and the Gross National Happiness Commission supported the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature to devise a community led insurance scheme to support farmers that had suffered crop and livestock losses. The scheme started with 200.000 bhutanese Ngultrum, around 3.300 US dollars and was maintained with membership fees paid by farmers. Households set up a committee and a basic formula to calculate compensations for livestock and crop losses.  

The scheme ran through 2012 into 2013 and within the first six months, 20 compensation claims had been received and attended to.

This community led compensation scheme adds up to a number of initiatives and programmes launched to counter problems caused by human wildlife conflicts. It is an excellent example on how community led action can preserve Bhutan’s rich biodiversity, and to meet the needs of farmer’s like Sangay, that make up around 90% of the country’s population.

Directed by Marta Baraibar.

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