Farmers use stuffed tigers to keep monkeys at bay

Farmers in rural villages and monkeys do not see eye to eye. While electric and chain-link fencing can keep many wild animals at bay, monkeys are a different challenge altogether. In Punakha’s Goenshari Gewog, monkeys have a keen taste for potatoes. Tired of the monkey menace, the farmers of Draghhukha are now using tigers to guard their crops against monkeys. Well, not real tigers, but stuffed tigers. And this technique has been successful so far. Just don’t tell the monkeys.

50-year-old Dorji Lhamo is switching the direction of her stuffed tiger faces. The stuffed tiger needs to change direction every other day so that the monkeys do not doubt that it is a dummy.

What began as a pilot exercise by Dorji and her husband a few years ago quickly gained popularity in the village.

Dorji Lhamo says since they started placing stuffed tigers to guard her crops against monkeys, the couple saw an increased harvest. These potatoes are from their recent harvest.

Dorji says in the past, she loses all her hard work to the monkeys.

“I started to keep stuffed tigers for guarding crops in 2018. Since then, I could harvest my agricultural produce without monkeys destroying them. Monkeys are really scared of the stuffed tiger. They run away screaming into the jungle,” said Dorji Lhamo, a farmer.

A stuffed tiger costs between Nu 2,500 to 3,500. Most villagers in the chiwog use stuffed tigers to guard their crops from monkeys. They say this trick only works on monkeys.

“Earlier, monkeys come to our fields damaging potatoes, oranges, tomatoes, and paddy. But now we harvest all these produce without any problem after keeping stuffed tigers in our fields. Otherwise, monkeys come to our fields four to five times a day. Sometimes they come throughout the day and even climb the roofs of our houses,” said Zangmo, another farmer.

“Since I could not handle the monkeys, I hired one stuffed tiger from my neighbour last year. It helped me a lot to guard crops. So, I bought one for myself after seeing the benefit,” said Sangay Zam, a farmer.

“I do not know how it will be in future, but today, it is quite calm. Even if there is no one at home, our crops are protected thanks to the stuffed tiger,” said Namgay, a farmer.

Farmers only guard their crops at night against other wild animals freeing them for other work during the day.

Villagers are now planning to buy more of the stuffed tiger to guard their fields against monkeys.

“I am thinking about how to make these stuffed tigers roar. And about moving the tigers at a push of a remote button. I would like to request the viewers to help Goenshari Gewog if you all have any innovative ideas,” said Tshewang Gyeltshen, agriculture extension supervisor of Goenshar Gewog.

Dragchhukha Chiwog has about 25 households and is located 12 kilometres away from the Goenshari Gewog Centre.

While most households in the chiwog have bought stuffed tigers, for some it is beyond their means. Farmers say it is difficult to get the stuffed tigers from the nearby markets. They are also worried about the increasing price of the stuffed tigers.

Changa Dorji, Punakha

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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