A Rescue Shelter For Injured Animals Inside Bhutan’s Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary
The shelter was actually constructed as a ‘makeshift’ sanctuary to treat the growing number of injured animals, according to park officials.
By Younten Tshedup | Kuensel
Three years ago, a pack of wild dogs in Trashiyangtse separated Zhogmo, a Sambar deer fawn from her mother.
While the mother was chased back into the forest, Zhogmo was instead driven towards a settlement in the Gangkhardung village of Bumdeling gewog.
The villagers reared her for some time before handing it over to the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS).
Photo: Travel Triangle
Since then, the fawn has grown close to the villagers and her rescuers in the sanctuary. The usually shy mammal can be spotted greeting her visitors and sometimes ‘shaking’ their hands.
Along with Zhogmo, two more Sambar deer, Tshetharmo and Blama were brought to the BWS in 2015. Today, the three deer live in the park’s mini-rescue shelter.
Tshetharmo was rescued by a group of monks in Rigsum Goenpa while Blama was rescued in Phongmey, Trashigang and brought to the shelter. All three deer are female.
Treating and providing shelter for injured animals
The Senior Forestry Officer with the sanctuary, Tshering Dendup said that apart from sheltering the Sambar deer, the park has also treated other injured wild animals as well, such as the goral, barking deer and wild boars. Once they have recovered fully, they were released back into the forest again.
While the rest of the animals were released after their recovery, the three could not be released into the forest, as they had grown close to humans.
“If we release them into the forest, they would become easy targets for hunters,” said Tshering Dendup.
“Instead of running when they see people, they actually come near, expecting to be fed. We couldn’t afford to release them back.”
He said that the Sambar deer would move toward human settlements during harvest time to feed. However, when stray and wild dogs attack them, they often end up being injured.
Some challenges which the rescue shelter face
Limited space at the rescue shelter is becoming a concern for officials currently. The shelter was actually constructed as a ‘makeshift’ sanctuary to treat the growing number of injured animals, according to park officials.
On December 22, another male fawn, Zhogpo, was brought to the shelter from Tarphel village. Officials said that the fawn was separated from his mother and started approaching the village on its own. Upon seeing Zhogpo, the villagers kept it for a week before taking it to the shelter.
“We fed him milk since he is not big enough to eat grass and leaves like the others,” said Tshering Dendup.
With the increasing number of animals in the shelter, feeding them adequately is another cause of concern, according to officials.
The Park Manager of BWS, Karma Tempa said that on average, a deer eats 10kg of potatoes a day at the shelter. The three deer at the shelter are fed potatoes, chickpeas, maize stems and grass.
“This is the minimum amount we can feed them.”
Lack of proper equipment like tranquilliser guns and trained rescuers is another problem that the park faces today. The Park officials treat the injured animals with support from the veterinary staff.
Tshering Dendup said that without equipment like tranquilliser guns, it is difficult to approach the injured animals.
“In the process of treating the animals, there is a possibility that the animal might die out of shock.”
However, there is silver lining ahead, Karma Tempa revealed that under the ‘Bhutan For Life’ initiative, the park has proposed a budget in the 12th Plan to establish a proper shelter for the rescued animals.
This article first appeared in kuensel and has been edited for the Daily Bhutan.