Bhutan’s National Parks: A Haven for Wildlife Enthusiasts

Bhutan’s National Parks – Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is a treasure trove of natural beauty and biodiversity. The kingdom’s commitment to preserving its environment is evident in its extensive network of national parks and protected areas, which cover more than 51% of its total land area. For wildlife enthusiasts, Bhutan’s national parks offer unparalleled opportunities to witness a rich variety of flora and fauna in their natural habitats. This article explores the unique features of Bhutan’s national parks and the incredible wildlife they protect.

Jigme Dorji National Park

Jigme Dorji National Park, the second-largest protected area in Bhutan, is often referred to as the crown jewel of the kingdom’s conservation efforts. Covering an area of approximately 4,349 square kilometers, the park spans several climatic zones, ranging from subtropical forests to alpine meadows. This diversity in habitats supports a wide array of wildlife species.

Bhutan's National Parks

The park is home to some of the most iconic and endangered species in the region. The majestic snow leopard, elusive and rarely seen, roams the high-altitude areas, while the Bengal tiger prowls the lower regions. Other notable inhabitants include the Himalayan black bear, red panda, and blue sheep. Birdwatchers will also be delighted by the park’s avian diversity, with species such as the Himalayan monal, blood pheasant, and the critically endangered white-bellied heron.

Royal Manas National Park

Royal Manas National Park, the oldest national park in Bhutan, holds a special place in the hearts of conservationists. Spanning 1,057 square kilometers, the park is situated in the southern part of the country and shares a border with India’s Manas National Park, creating a transboundary conservation area.

The park’s tropical and subtropical ecosystems are home to an impressive array of wildlife. It serves as a sanctuary for the one-horned rhinoceros, Asian elephant, and the rare golden langur. Additionally, Royal Manas is known for its high density of bird species, making it a prime destination for birdwatching enthusiasts. Species such as the great hornbill, wreathed hornbill, and rufous-necked hornbill can be spotted here.

Thrumshingla National Park

Thrumshingla National Park, located in central Bhutan, spans an area of 768 square kilometers. The park is characterized by its rugged terrain, deep valleys, and steep cliffs, offering a challenging yet rewarding experience for trekkers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

The park’s diverse habitats support a wide variety of species, including the red panda, tiger, and leopard. Thrumshingla is also renowned for its birdlife, with over 341 species recorded within its boundaries. Birdwatchers can expect to see the beautiful satyr tragopan, ward’s trogon, and the rare black-necked crane during the winter months.

Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park

Named after Bhutan’s fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park covers an area of 1,730 square kilometers in the central part of the country. The park’s varied landscapes, ranging from warm broadleaf forests to cool alpine zones, provide a haven for numerous wildlife species.

The park is home to several large mammals, including the Himalayan serow, red panda, and the clouded leopard. It also serves as a vital habitat for the Bhutan takin, the national animal of Bhutan. The park’s rich birdlife includes species such as the black eagle, barred cuckoo-dove, and the elusive Blyth’s kingfisher.

Phrumsengla National Park

Phrumsengla National Park, also known as Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, is located in the northeastern part of Bhutan. Covering an area of 1,335 square kilometers, the park is characterized by its pristine forests, high-altitude lakes, and meandering rivers.

The park’s diverse ecosystems support a wide range of wildlife, including the red panda, Himalayan musk deer, and the elusive snow leopard. Phrumsengla is also a crucial habitat for the black-necked crane, which migrates to the park’s wetlands during the winter months. Birdwatchers can also spot species such as the satyr tragopan, blood pheasant, and the Bhutan laughingthrush.

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the easternmost part of Bhutan, covers an area of 740 square kilometers. The sanctuary is unique in that it was established to protect the cultural heritage and traditional lifestyles of the semi-nomadic Brokpa people, as well as the region’s biodiversity.

The sanctuary’s diverse habitats, ranging from warm broadleaf forests to alpine meadows, support a wide variety of wildlife. Notable species include the red panda, Himalayan black bear, and the grey langur. The sanctuary is also home to several rare bird species, such as the Himalayan monal, blood pheasant, and the grey-headed parrotbill.

Conservation Efforts and Ecotourism

Bhutan’s commitment to conservation is rooted in its unique philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which emphasizes the well-being of its people and the environment over economic growth. The kingdom’s national parks and protected areas are managed with a focus on sustainable development, ensuring that wildlife conservation and community well-being go hand in hand.

Ecotourism plays a crucial role in Bhutan’s conservation efforts. By promoting responsible tourism, the kingdom aims to generate revenue for conservation projects while providing visitors with unique and authentic experiences. Tourists visiting Bhutan’s national parks can participate in guided treks, wildlife safaris, and birdwatching tours, all of which are designed to minimize environmental impact and support local communities.

Bhutan’s national parks offer a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, providing unparalleled opportunities to explore some of the most pristine and biodiverse regions on Earth. From the high-altitude realms of Jigme Dorji National Park to the tropical forests of Royal Manas, each park offers a unique glimpse into the kingdom’s rich natural heritage. By prioritizing conservation and sustainable development, Bhutan ensures that its wildlife and natural landscapes remain protected for future generations to enjoy. For those seeking an unforgettable wildlife adventure, Bhutan’s national parks are truly a paradise waiting to be discovered.