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Return of the wild dogs
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Wild dog
Sometime in the mid-70s, the government initiated the mass poisoning of wild dogs that terrorized farmers and fed on their cattle. Most of the carnivores were killed and soon forgotten. Now after almost 22 years, the wild dogs are back. This time the law is on their side. In lower Kheng region, Zhemgang dzongkhag, the carnivores are believed to be on the rampage killing cattle and giving farmers sleepless nights. Wild dogs are a nightmare to farmers.

Last year more than 36 cattle were lost under Goshing geog from the villages of Ngarang, Drimjang, Dumjang and Karmabii, which consist of few households, despite constant vigil. Many more cattle are believed to have been killed in Dumti, Barpong and Phuling villages. Similar incidents have also been reported in other nearby geogs like Langdubi and Ngangla. Most of these geogs are two to three days walk from the nearest motor road.

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The Farmers' loss

For farmers a loss of a cow is harsh since most depend on the animal for cheese and butter which they sell for cash and use the dung as fertilizer. Cattle can cost between Nu 5000 to Nu 15,000, depending on its breed. One farmer lost about 14 cows in Goshing geog. Most farmers have resorted to keeping cattle caged fearing more losses. The wild dogs prey in packs of 20 to 25. They are larger than the domestic dogs, and are of a brownish colour with a black nose and a black tail.

Farmers said that the only positive spin-off from the wild dog explosion in their geogs is the reduction of the wild boar menace. The wild boars in the area have reportedly drifted downwards into other geogs wrecking farmlands and crops.

The farmers of lower Kheng, however, are not alone grappling with the problem. Forestry officials in Wangduephodrang say that wild dog attacks have resurfaced in Phobjikha and Kabji geog. Cases have also been reported in Thimphu Dagala area and in Changkha and Dagapela in Dagana dzongkhag. According to the Nature Conservation Division (NCD) it's been about three years since the re-appearance of the wild dogs.

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