Yesterday I was alarmed by the BBS report that the Golden Langurs have been invading farms in Langthel Gewog. This is totally out of character.
I come from an area that is the primates' prime habitat. Until yesterday, I have never before seen or heard of Golden Langurs destroying crops or even coming anywhere close to farmlands. If what the BBS reports is true, there is a need for worry. Obviously, oblivious to their human cousins, the primate’s natural habitat must be undergoing some change - or there must be something that is causing some kind of disruption that the poor fellows are forced to venture out of their comfort zone.
We claim that 72% of our land mass is under forest cover. If this is true, then the human population is not encroaching into those of the wildlife. Therefore they have no need to encroach into ours. Why are they doing it?
In fact, in the last close to three decades, the wildlife has been causing serious problems for Bhutan’s human population. In parts of the East, they have caused alarming rates of rural-urban migration. Whole villages have been emptied of human population and large swaths of farmlands have been left fallow.
Has the wildlife population increased so much that 72% of forestland is no longer enough for them that they find it necessary to encroach into 28% that comprise the human habitat? Why have the Langurs taken to eating chilies? They want Emma Datsi too? Is the wildlife going through a change in their food habits? Are they finding their traditional food no longer palatable?
Are we doing something to their habitat that they are forced to invade our farmlands and feed on our crops? Is there a larger problem that we are ignoring? Have we unwittingly caused some disruption in the pollination process in a way that the forests in which they live no longer produce the food that they traditionally use to feed on? Why are the herbivores - deer, wild boars, porcupines, monkeys - risking their lives and rummaging through farms and gardens, to feed on human food?
In nature nothing is accidental. There has to be a reason why the herbivores are undergoing such behavioral change, after all, their domain remains even more protected than ever before.
Are they warning us of some impending disaster? Is our natural environment as healthy as we say they are? Is it possible that our overprotective environmental concerns may have negatively impacted some evolutionary process thereby causing some plant and animal life to behave outside of their usual pattern of behavior?
May be it is time that we look at the problem as something more than human-wildlife conflict - may be something lot more serious is afoot.