Samtse DT calls for compensation for crops damaged by elephants

Local leaders in Samtse highlighted the urgent need for compensation for crops lost in damages caused by elephants during the recently held Dzongkhag Tshogdu. Like other southern districts, Samtse has been facing recurring incidents of elephants damaging crops besides reports of casualties for a long time.

Currently, there is no compensation from the government for crop losses caused by elephants or any other wildlife.

Since January this year, the district agriculture office has reported two instances of human-wildlife conflict with elephants in Yoeseltse and Tading Gewogs. These incidents destroyed half an acre of paddy fields in Yoeseltse and 160 areca nut trees in Tading Gewog.

Until now, Tading Gewog did not report elephant sightings in the area.

Additionally, elephant sightings were also reported in some other gewogs but the villagers managed to chase away the tuskers before they could cause any problems.

Local leaders have raised concerns about the increasing damages caused by elephants to farmers’ crops in the recent Dzongkhag Tshogdu session.

The issue has become more severe in recent years damaging crops and causing distress among locals.

“We recently experienced significant damage to our seven to eight-year-old areca nut trees, which were on the verge of bearing fruits, due to elephants. After reporting the incident to the district agriculture sector, we discovered that there is currently, no compensation available for such losses caused by elephants. It would greatly benefit affected farmers if the government could compensate for crop damages caused by elephants,” said Yam Bahadur Ghalley, Tading Gup.

Similarly, despite implementing various measures to prevent elephants from entering villages, several other gewogs have also observed a rise in elephant sightings over the past few years.

“Over the last three years, we’ve seen elephants frequently appearing in our villages, creating numerous challenges. Additionally, affected farmers have approached our offices, expressing their disappointment at not receiving compensation for their damaged crops. They have expressed frustration, stating that elephants are not allowing them to harvest the fruits of their labor, and have appealed to us for assistance,” said Karna Bdr Thakuri, Ugyentse Gup.

“The Forest and Nature Conservation Act 2023 specifies that affected farmers can receive compensation for property, crop, and livestock damages caused by wildlife. However, it lacks clarity regarding the specific offices and ministries responsible for providing this compensation,” said Vaskar Chapagai, Denchukha Gup.

The district agriculture officials clarified that apart from crop insurance, there is currently no dedicated fund to compensate farmers for crop damage caused by elephants or other wild animals.

However, they said they provide free seeds to assist farmers in mitigating the losses.

The Dzongkhag Tshogdu has decided to write to relevant ministries to review and amend plans and policies, addressing the critical need for compensation and support for farmers affected by crop damages caused by wildlife.

Passang Dorji, Samtse

Edited by Phub Gyem

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