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Saturday, August 30th, 2014 - 8:11 PM
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Tuskers feast on Umling maize fields

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Apart from the party candidates, there are new visitors that the people of Umling gewog in Gelephu have been seeing lately.

A week ago, three elephants, a cow and two calves, entered the maize fields in Umling.  The elephants were initially spotted in Dungmin village a week ago, and were found to have moved to Dangling village two days later,  Umling gup Ugyen Norbu said. “The elephants could reach Chuzagang if they crossed Dangling,” he said.

Gup Ugyen Norbu said they don’t know how much of the maize fields have been destroyed by the three tuskers.  He said it had been some time since they didn’t face problems from elephants, especially after the community forest was started.

“We didn’t even send domestic animals to that side of the forest where elephants are spotted, thinking it would protect the their area and to prevent them from coming to villages,” said the villagers.

There are 435 households in Umling gewog and each household grows less than two acres of maize, gup Ugyen Norbu said.  After spotting the elephants and the fields they destroyed, villagers met and decided to guard their fields in the evening.

Ap Gyeltshen said one from each household goes to the field every evening to chase the elephants after an early dinner. “We use burning torches to chase the elephants whenever we spot them.”

Karma, another villager said the situation now is nothing compared to what they used to experience less than a decade ago. “To spot your kitchen garden destroyed by wild animals isn’t a big issue, compared to finding parts of your one-storied house fallen apart.”

However, she said with electricity, and an increasing number of people in the village, wildlife attacks have decreased.  Elephants mostly attack maize, paddy fields, banana and millet, said Karma.

Meanwhile local leaders said that they have suggested people not only to wait and chase when elephants enter the fields, but to also conduct rituals as it has helped earlier.

By Dawa Gyelmo

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