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Bhutan's National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Nature Reserves

Protected areas are special areas with rich natural and associated cultural diversity especially protected to conserve some of the most significant and important biological diversity in the country.

In Bhutan, the protected areas network covers some of the important and critical ecosystems in the country stretching from sub-tropical to mid temperate to alpine zones.

There are nine protected areas in the country covering 17 dzongkhags and consists of four national parks, four wildlife sanctuaries and one strict nature reserve. Out of these nine protected areas, currently only six are operational.

They are ..

Jigme Dorji National Park, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Royal Manas National Park, Thrumshingla National Park, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary and Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary.

The remaining three areas of Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary, Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary and Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve (former Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve) are yet to be operationalised.


Jigme Dorji National Park
Jigme Dorji National Park with an area of 4,350 sq km is the largest protected area system in Bhutan. Jigme Dorji National Park was initially notified as Wildlife Sanctuary in 1974 and upgraded to a national park in 1993 and formally established with the appointment of a park manager in 1995. It is located in the northwestern part of Bhutan and ranges from sub-tropical forest at an elevation of 1,400m to alpine glaciers at about 7,000m.
Snow Leopard The park borders with Tibetan China in the north and is home to some 6,500 Layaps, Lunaps, Geons and Gasaps. These people are mostly local tribes and have been living in the park prior to its establishment.
The park is home to many charismatic wildlife species like snow leopard, Bengal tigers, Himalayan black bear, common leopard, yak, blue sheep, marmot, raven, takin, fox, wildboar, sambar, musk deer, wild dog, pika, clouded leopard and many others found in their natural habitats.
Caterpillar fungus Cordyceps sinensis Takin
The park also has equally rich floral species consisting of a unique caterpillar fungus Cordyceps sinensis, rhododendrons, chirpines, cypress and hundreds of alpine medicinal and aromatic plants. JDNP is also the only park in Bhutan where national animal (takin), flower (blue poppy), bird (raven) and tree (cypress) exist together.


Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park

Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park previously known as Black Mountain National Park was formally established as national park in 1995. The park is located in central Bhutan and encloses an area of 1,730 sq km.

Himalayan Black Bear

The ecosystem ranges from 640m to 4,925m and has local settlement with some 6,000 people living within the park area. A local tribe called Monpa, who specializes on cane works, is also a resident of this park. The park has permanent ice peak like Dorshingla rising to 4,925m, alpine lakes, pastures, conifer and broadleaf forests.

Some of the charismatic species in the park include red panda, golden langur which is endemic to Bhutan, common langur, sambar, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, tiger, leopard and some 449 species of birds.

Recently a new kind of deer different from the common sambar was sighted and identified to be the "Bhutan Shou" a species of deer, which was believed to be non-existing in Bhutan until now. The Phobjikha valley, which lies in the buffer zone of the park, is an important habitat of Black Necked Cranes, one of the highly endangered birds in the world. Over 260 cranes visit this valley every winter.

Thrumshingla National Park

Thrumshingla National park lies in the east central part of Bhutan and was formally established in 1998. The park encompasses an area of 889 sq km and covers parts of Bumthang, Mongar, Lhuntshe and Zhemgang dzongkhags. The park is home to some 1,000 local residents.

Red Panda

The park symbolizes the highest tiger habitat at 4,000m, which is quite rare in nature. Some of the important wildlife species include red panda, Leopard, Himalayan black bear, tiger, musk deer, Barking deer, wild boar, wild dog and fox. The park contains one of the richest temperate forests in the eastern Himalayas with fir forests as old as 400 years old which form contiguous habitat for tiger distribution in Bhutan.

This park is also the place where 22 species of rhododendrons are growing in their natural habitat, now protected as the "Rhododendron Garden" established in 2002 to mark the International Year of the Mountains.

Royal Manas National Park

Located in the south central part of Bhutan, Royal Manas National Park has an area of 1023 sq km. RMNP is the oldest protected area system in Bhutan, established as early as 1966 and upgraded as national park in 1993.

Wild dogs
The park covers three dzongkhags of Zhemgang, Sarpang and Samdrup Jongkhar with about 5000 local residents living in the park.
It is strategically located with Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park in the north and India's Manas Wildlife Reserve, a UNESCO world heritage site in the south and thus form an integral part of the protected areas complex.
wild dog

The park includes a range of habitats from lowland tropical systems to the permanent ice fields harboring a diversity of flora and fauna.Besides, serving as the southern most subtropical Himalayan habitat for various species of flora and fauna, it is also the extended habitat for the endangered mega-herbivores with the like Rhinoceros, gaur, wild buffalo and elephant. Cats like Bengal tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, marble cat also roam in this park. Others such as wild boars, wild dog, barking deer, pygmy hog, hornbill and peacock are not a surprise. The bird species is extremely rich with a record of over 362 species.

Courtesy Ministry of Agriculture - DOF Nature Conservation Division
New national park launched: Wangchuck Centennial Park

The Wangchuck Centennial Park is covering areas of 3,736 km2 transcending over four districts of Gasa, Trongsa, Bumthang and Lhuentse. The park will connect the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park in the northwest to Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east. The Wangchuck Centennial Park is the second largest park in Bhutan. The new park in northern Bhutan has been declared as a new national park by the Royal Government of Bhutan to commemorate the centenary celebration of the country's Monarchy. With altitudinal range of 2,000m to 7,200m above sea level, it conprises of significant conifer broadleaf forests and alpine scrubs. A team of experts from the the Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture has already initiated the preliminary survey of the park.

The new park will increase the protected areas system of Bhutan to 49.22% from 36%. On the 12th of December, 2008, the WCP was launched at Nasiphel village, Bumthang, by the Honorable Prime Ministry Jigme Y Thinley.

Source: WWF Bhutan , January 2009
Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve is now «Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve»

In appreciation of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck's commitment to environmental conservation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has renamedthe «Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve.»

Source: WWF Bhutan , October 2014


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