Bhutan Nature Tour
Nature is synonymous with Bhutan and the country has been described as a natural paradise. Wedged between China and India. Bhutan terrain range from sub-tropical foothills in the south, through the temperate zones, to dizzying heights of over 7500 meters. From the tropical vegetation in the southern foothills, temperature conifer or broad-leaf forest in the central Himalaya to the alpine zone in the greater Himalayas, Bhutan is home to diverse flora and fauna. Historically, Bhutan is named as the land of the medicinal herb and there are more than 300 officially recorded species of medicinal plants, 46 species of rhododendrons, variety of rare orchards, junipers, magnolias, daphneys, blue poppy, to name it few. Today as the world mourns the loss of its ecology, this small Himalayan kingdom is emerging as an example to the international community, with about 70 percent of its land still under forest and a great variety of rare plant and wildlife species.
As a whole, Bhutan is very conscious of the need of protecting its naturally given environment. With the national policy and under the Bhutanese law, 60% out of 72.5% of the kingdom must remain covered by forest for all time to come. The country has received the Earth Award in 2005 established by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and has been included in the list of the world’s “ hot spots “ for conservation of biological diversity. Through learning from the mistakes of other countries, Bhutan with its late development the country’s policy of development has been taken care along with more emphasis on the conservation of forests and rare flora and fauna. As mentioned earlier the country’s policy of maintaining 60% forest cover for all time to come. Bhutan has constituted protected areas of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. The country has categorized nine protected areas into strict nature reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries representing typical biodiversity at different levels of species, genetic, landscapes, and eco-systems.
National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries
1. National Park
Royal Manas National Park is the oldest park in Bhutan and covers an area of 1,057 square kilometers. The park is home to many habitats including Royal Bengal Tiger, Elephant, One-horned Rhinocerous (Rhinoceros unicornis) Gaur (Bos gaurus), Asiatic wild-buffalo (Bubalus arnee) and four rare species –Golden langur (Presbytis geei), Pygmy hog (Sus salvanuis), Hispid hare (Caprolaus hispidus), and Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica). The park is also home to many of bird species and around 362 species of birds have been officially recorded including Hornbills (i.e.,Rufous-necked, Wreathed, Pied and Great Hornbills). Three species of Mahseer, the rare migratory game-fish - Deep bodied Mahseer (Tor tor), Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora), and Chocolate Mahseer or Katle (Acrossocheilus hexangonolepis) that inhabits the Manas river which is the formation of Mangdue, Chamkhar, Kuri and Dangme Chu Rivers.
Wangchuk Centennial Park is founded in 2008, located in central-northern Bhutan. It is one of the largest parks with an area covering 4,914 square kilometers. The park is home to 244 species of vascular plants, 23 species of large mammals and 134 species of birds. Charasmaic wildlife species like Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris), Snow Leopard (Uncia uncial), Wolf (Canis Lupus), Takin (Budorcas taxicolor) and Himalayan Black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus) are found.
Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Park is the second largest protected area (4,316 square kilometers) with an altitude ranging between 1,400m – above 7,000m. It is the natural conservatory of glacier, alpine meadows, and scrublands, sub-alpine and temperate conifer forest, warm and cool temperate broadleaf forest, several major river system and the flora and fauna. The park harbors many endangered species including Royal Bengal Tiger, Snow Leopard, Takin (Budorcas taxicolor), Blue Sheep (Pseudouis nayaur), Musk deer (Moshcus chrysogaster), Himalayan Black Bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), Marmot (Marmota himalayana), Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) and several species of birds. The park contains more than 300 species of medicinal plants including high-value Yaktsa-guenbub or summer plant-winter warm (Cordyceps sinensis).
Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park covers a total area of 1,730 square ranging between 600m – 4,925m. From broad leave forest to conifer forest and to alpine pasture the rich forest is home to more than 449 species of birds including the endangered Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis).
Thrumshingla National Park covers a total area of 905.05 square kilometers within an altitude of 700m – 4,400m. It is one of the second major temperate parks with a protection of large tracts of old-growth fir forests. The park contains six different species of globally threatened birds including Rufous necked Hornbill (Aceros nepalensis), Rufous-throated wren-babbler (Spelaeomis caudatus), Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra), Beautiful nuthatch (Sitta Formosa), Ward’s trogon (Harpactes wardii) and Chestnut-breasted patridge (Aroborphila mandellii).
2. Wildlife Sanctuaries
Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuaries located in north-eastern Bhutan with a total area of 1,520.61 square kilometers ranging between an altitude of 1,500m – 6,000m. It covers a rich diversity of flora and fauna including the endangered winter visitor the Black-necked Crane found especially in Bumdeling, that migrate from the Tibetan plateau.
Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuaries in the northeastern Bhutan is the only protected area that harbor the highly reclusive Yeti. It covers a total area of 740.60 square kilometers ranging between elevations of 1,800m – 4,400m. The sanctuaries harbors other endemic species such as Eastern blue pine (Pinus bhutanica) and Blacked-rumped magpie (Pica pica bottanesis).
Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuaries covers a total area of 268.93 square kilometers, with an altitude ranging between 200m – 16,00m known for its important bio-geographic position. The protected area is home to Sal (Shorea robusta) and harbors Chital (Axis axis) or spotted deer. It is also home to various animal species including Elephant, Royal Bangal Tiger, Gaur, three different species of Mahseer; the rare migratory game-fish - Deep bodied Mahseer (Tor tor), Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora), and Chocolate Mahseer or Katle (Acrossocheilus hexangonolepis).
Khaling Wildlife Sanctuaries is a smallest protected area covering a total area of 334.73 square kilometers ranging between 400m – 2,200m. The park is an important habitat for Elephant, Gaur and other tropical wildlife species.
3. Reserves: Torsa Strict Natural Reserves covers a total area of 609, 51 square kilometer with an altitude ranging between 1,400m – 4,800m covering broadleaf forest to alpine meadows.