Still by its toe
Live baits: Inside and outside the enclosure
Almost two weeks of waiting to watch the tiger that has been preying on cattle belonging to villagers of Dorji Goenpa, fall into the foot traps, has gone in vain.
Their earlier bait, an injured cow the tiger had attacked, and the foot traps, had failed to capture the tiger, so had the goat inside a metal cage.
With the tiger still lurking in the forests of the nearby areas of the Dorji Goenpa village, officials of the wildlife conservation division, who have been stationed at the area in Bulipang since August 14, yesterday switched their plans to trap the predator.
The team of four forest officials have pulled out the goat from the metal cage, and removed the metal cage totally, because they believe it was the smell of it that prevented the big cat from visiting the area, despite the bait.
Senior livestock production officer Kinzang Gyeltshen said this time they want the goat to be kept outside, as the smell of the metal cage might have alarmed the predator from returning.
“There was no sign of the predator near the cage, which was set at Tongjatasa, a few kilometres from Bulipang towards Bumthang, for almost a week with a live goat inside,” he said.
Instead, they have planted the injured cow that cannot stand, inside a temporary box-like enclosure made of wooden shingles. with an opening at the entrance door, and the goat by it, to lure the tiger with its smell.
Around the enclosure, forest officials have laid several foot traps along the trail the tiger used to sneak out of the village earlier.
“Tigers normally follow the same way out,” one of the officials said.
The goat was bought mainly to trap the predator.
The team believes the same predator has killed a bull in Wooling. Wooling is also few kilometres away from Bulipang towards Trongsa town.
“When the tiger attacks cattle in Wooling area, areas in Bulipang are calm,” Kinzang Gyeltshen said.
Although there is no new report of attacks on cattle after the latest attack of August 22 at Wooling, forest officials found fresh pugmarks yesterday at Wooling village.
“It’s still there,” one field staff said. “The predator once returned near the injured cow, but went back a few metres after reaching the spot because maybe it sensed people’s presence nearby.”
With live bait outside the enclosure, forest officials said they would have to keep keen ear to the dogs to learn of the predator’s approaching.
“Dog’s usually don’t bark when tigers and leopards approach,” one forest official said. “They squeal and sometimes howl with their tails between their legs.”
Meanwhile, villagers of Dorji Goenpa have begun rounding up cows earlier and taking better care of their cows.
The team hopes to be able to trap the tiger, which they intend to tranquillise to be kept in a rehabilitation unit in Thimphu, or at least for the situation in Trongsa to calm down.
They then intend to leave for Mongar to catch the leopard, which recently killed several cows and hens, besides injuring other livestock animals in Kalapang.
By Tashi Tenzin, Trongsa