Marauding bears instill fear, anger in Solukhumbu farmers

Santosh Raut
Solukhumbu, July 23: Farmers in hilly areas of Solukhumbu district are upset as bears from the nearby forest stray into their fields to feed off the crops and food supplies. This has prompted them to hang small pots and tins on the farmland year-round and stay awake through the night.

As soon as the bear is seen making its way to the field, the farmers start ringing the tin to keep the bear out. Chet Bahadur Magar, a farmer in Tamakhani, said that after the bear troubled him eating corns all night, he fenced his field and lit a fire to scare it away. He said, “We have to stay vigilant all night, if we fall asleep for a moment, the bear will eat all the crops.”

According to Bibek Karki, a teacher at PK Secondary School, even the students are having to sit on the fence all night to drive away the bears. “They come to school feeling asleep, and aren’t doing their home works given by the teacher,” he said.

The life of the locals has been upended by the fear of bears in various parts of the district, including Salleri, Tamakhani, Beni and Taksindu. Farmers are being injured or even killed in bear attacks every year. Every farmer in the areas of Fera in Beni has also started to chase away the bear by building fences and hitting tins.

“We haven’t been able to sleep properly for long now.

Things will be okay only if we remain awake all night. If we fall asleep, they will come and eat the corn again,” complained Dawa Sherpa, a farmer from Phera.

“The law restricts people from killing bears. But if we do nothing and allow them to run amok, they will destroy the whole year’s food,” said Purna Tamang, a farmer of Roshi.

According to locals, they are even afraid to go out of house at night due to fear of the bears. “More than five bears are found roaming around the copper mine area alone. If a single of them enters the field, it will destroy all the corns,” they said. Farmers have also complained that bears have been bothering locals in Ringmu, Phera and Junbeshi areas of the district.

District Administration Office and the District Forest Office have repeatedly warned locals not to injure or kill a single wild animal.

According to the District Forest Office, crops should be protected by taking other alternative measures and there is no provision for compensation for destroyed crops. As confirmed by Everest National Park, in case of damage to humans, there is a legal system that can compensate the injured up to Rs. 50,000 and in the case of death, up to Rs. 150,000.

Ward Chairman Lakpagelu Sherpa said that dozens of petitions have been registered in ward office of Solududhakund Municipality-3 asking it to make effort to keep the wild animals out of the fields.TheRisingNepal/from

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