Layaps and the bears

Sonam Pem Tshoki

Pema Tshewang came home from work one day only to find someone had broken into his house. Inside, it was mayhem. It was the bear. In Laya, human-wildlife conflicts have been growing over the years.

At the National Council’s question hour session Wednesday, MP for Gasa Dorji Khandu said that the bears had damaged 70-something houses in Laya so far. The threat to humans is ever-present. And with stringent conservation laws, the people are not able to keep wildlife at bay.

Passang, 61, who is the tshogpa of Lubja, said that bears came into the fields looking for food which was risky for the people. He added that drastic government intervention was urgently needed.

“Recently, bears had broken into four houses. They had eaten food stock such as milk powder, sugar, refined oil and spices,” Passang said. Such incidences occur mostly when the people have migrated to the warmer valleys.

Pema Tshewang, 51, said: “A few days ago, I returned home towards evening, I found the door broken. Kitchen items were scattered on the floor. It was a total mess.” He added that a bear had attacked a herder. Luckily, the man survived.

Residents said that when people alerted officials about such incidence, they came for inspection but did not do anything after that.

Laya’s gup, Lhakpa Tshering, said that recently bears had attacked at least four people in Laya. “Human-wildlife conflict is the biggest problem in Laya. In the summer bear attack is rare but in winter it is becoming dangerously common.”

The gewog administration was working on arranging preventive measures like fencing, he added.

Passang said that human-wildlife was the biggest problem facing the gewog. “People feel that the government considers them less important animal.”

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