Giving Bhutanese rangers more training means better wildlife protection

In the slideshow above, we see members of the the Wildlife Conservation Division of the Royal Government of Bhutan in collaboration with International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) who have just completed a month-long wildlife crime prevention training for the country’s frontline staff.

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This post, sent in by one of our IFAW-WTI staff, Subhamoy, also sent along with some wonderful photos. At the bottom are a few quotes of the Bhutanese forest officials, compiled since the beginning of the training for the Wangdue Forest Division, which was completed recently. -- SS

Bhutan Training updates 22 10 2013:

Bhutan is a special country – comprising over 80 % of its land under forest cover and measuring the country’s progress based on Gross National Happiness (GNH) are two of the many reasons why.

With a population of over 100 tigers, and strategically located in south Asia, it is also an important tiger conservation destination.

The Bhutanese wildlife laws, like that of any other country, are custom-designed to deal with wildlife crime and to protect their rich natural heritage.

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However, a law is only as good as its application. And effective application requires a good level of practical awareness among enforcement authorities.

The Wildlife Conservation Division of the Royal Government of Bhutan in collaboration with International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) have just completed a month-long wildlife crime prevention training for the country’s frontline staff.

The training of the Wangdue Forest Division (WFD), was attended by over 50 participants. The three-day sessions included ‘classes’ on wildlife laws of Bhutan and international laws, effective patrolling and ambushing techniques, collection and preservation of evidences/samples, preparation of offense reports, identification of original and fake wildlife articles, etc.

The final day of the training also saw field work on animal identification through tracks and signs, camera trapping, GPS use, and snake identification and first aid for snake bites, among others.

The trainers included Aniruddha Mookerjee, Jose Louies and Krishnendu Mondal from IFAW-WTI, and Sangay Dorji, Head of Carnivore programme of the WCD, Forestry Officers – Kinley Rabgay, Ugyen Tenzin, Tshering Zam, and Officer-in-charge of Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve, Namgay Wangchuk.

All the participants were provided with kits; these were handed over by Gomchen Dukpa, Chief Forestry Officer – WFD.

Similar sessions will be held in Jigme Singye Wangchuk Naitonal Park (NP), Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve, Wangchuk Centennial Park, Thrumsingla NP, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS), Sakteng WLS, Samdrup Jongkhar FD, Samtse FD, ending on November 17 at Jigme Dorji NP, in coordination with the local authorities in each of these areas.

A total of over 450 forest rangers and officials will be trained and equipped during these sessions.

What the Bhutanese authorities said about the training:

Sonam Wangchuk, Chief of the Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD) of the Royal Government of Bhutan:

“The training programme could not have been timed better than this. Our people in the field need better incentives, training and better equipment to do their job of saving our natural heritage. People become effective when their needs are fully met and I must take this privilege to thank our counterparts at the WTI-IFAW for starting this in some way.”

 

Ugyen Tenzin, Senior Forestry Officer with the Forest Protection and Enforcement Division and one of the trainers, after conducting an analysis of wildlife conservation law and enforcement on the 2nd day of the training:

“The field staff, who are at the frontline are in the best position to understand any weaknesses in our legal provisions. It is important to take in their views and any suggestions to make our legislations stronger. For instance, most of our field colleagues are of the view that the fines prescribed in our rules are not adequate to deter wildlife related offences. Our department is currently working towards revising the fine schedules”.

 

Sangay Dorji, Head of Carnivore Programme under the WCD, and a trainer:

“This is a crucial session for conservation of biodiversity in our country. The frontline staff needs proper training on modern technology and approaches dealing with wildlife crime and environmental conservation in the region. This training supported by IFAW-WTI in collaboration with WCD under the Department of Forest and Park Services will go a long way in achieving the above goal. Moreover, the field gear issued to our frontline staff will help them to perform their regular duties more efficiently”.

 

Namgay Wangchuk, Officer In-Charge of Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve, and a trainer, who taught the participation on identification of animals through signs and other secondary evidence:

“The training was very timely, as the Department is planning to do nationwide tiger survey. Such training can enhance the capacity and work efficiency. The incentive base training (with issuance of extension kits) will definitely motivate our frontline staff.”

 

Of the kits, the participating officers said:

Pema Thinley, Range Officer from Lobesa Range who carries out anti-poaching operations to protect musk deer:

“These will be very helpful to us on the field, particularly while patrolling in far remote areas inside forest.”

 

Dorji, a forester from Sephu Beat Office under Wangdue FD:

“My beat office is 80 km away from the division office. I do regular patrolling and wildlife anti-poaching duties in the Sephu forest area. This will be a helpful support to us in the field.”

 

-- Subhamoy

For more information about IFAW efforts to stem the tide of wildlife crime, visit our campaign page.

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