Wildlife conservationists have set up 20 camera traps in north Pemagatshel over a 150-200 sq. km, with the hope of capturing an image of an ape like creature that was sighted last year in Zobel gewog.“It looked like a gorilla, it was black, huge and over five feet tall,” Sonam Dorji, a ferrosilicon employee who sighted the creature while driving from Tshilinghor and Yonglagoenpa, said. “I was startled but the ape like creature standing in the middle of road disappeared in the forest after a glance at me.”
Forest officials talked to the people of Zobel gewog and some confirmed of having seen such ape like creature in the area. The gewog has 400 households.
Special advisor to national environment commission Dasho Paljor J. Dorji, who was informed about the sighting through a social networking site, lead a team of wildlife experts to the area. “We reviewed the camera traps from January 25 to February 25 and so far have not found any evidence of the ape like creatures’ presence,” Dasho Paljor said.
Instead the camera traps had captured lots of other wild animals living in the same region. Some of the wild animals captured were leopard, serow, wild dogs, wild pigs and different bird species.
“This study was like a wild goose chase but we will carry out a biodiversity expedition in the area soon and also set up the 20 camera traps, far from human settlement,” Dasho Paljor said. Earlier the camera traps were set up at Tshilinghor and Melongbrak area in north Pemagatshel about 2-3 km away from human settlement.
A researcher with the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Conservation and Environment (UWICE), Bird Sherub, who set up the camera traps said, it cost USD 500 for each camera trap and it was all done through support from UWICE and wildlife conservation division (WCD). “Apart from Assamese macques and caped langur, we didn’t find any ape like creature so far,” he said.
But there were lessons learnt about camera trapping such as location for camera traps, need for better batteries and higher memory. “The good thing is although most people in the area had knew about the camera traps locations, there were no disturbance to it.”
Plan for future study in the area also include use of better camera traps with funds to be proposed to government and other non-government organizations such as Bhutan Trust Fund. Present camera traps will also be set up in different locations for the study.
Photo courtesy: UWICE