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A Field Guide to Mammals
The illustrations for the field guide are being done by VAST

Bengal tigers, black panthers, snow leopards, marbled cats, gray wolves, red foxes, sloth bears, pygmy hogs, Asian elephants, golden langurs - are among the 200 or so mammals found in Bhutan. This rich diversity of mammal species will feature in the first ever illustrated guide to Bhutan's mammals that is to be released towards the end of this year according to the department of forests, agriculture ministry.

Titled «The field guide to the mammals of Bhutan», the book illustrated by paintings and distribution maps will carry technical information on the mammal, its behavior, habitat and will have a section on any specific conservation issues.

Bengal tiger wild dog "It will showcase our species diversity," said the forestry department's Bhutan museum of natural history head, Tashi Wangchuk, who is one of the seven Bhutanese authors working on the guide. For a small country like Bhutan 200 species of mammals is very rich according to Tashi Wangchuk.

"North America is much much bigger than Bhutan but has fewer mammal species," Tashi Wangchuk said.


"The field guide to the mammals of Bhutan"
takin "Extensive field surveys and literature reviews were the two methods we used in gathering information," said NCD's Karma Tshering, one of the Bhutanese authors. "The rugged terrain made it difficult to penetrate the extreme interiors." Tashi Wangchuk said that the authors also used remote sensing cameras and camera traps to take pictures of noturnal mammals. "But the local people were the best source of information. We would show them a picture of an animal and ask them whether they had seen it in the area and then we would verify its existence by looking for footprints, droppings or other signs."

The paintings for the book are being done by the voluntary artists society of Thimphu (VAST)"It is quite a task to do 200 illustrations of mammals with accuracy," said VAST's Kama Wangdi. "We are redoing a lot to get it as accurate as possible. But on the whole it is a learning experience particularly for VAST." The authors said that because of the level of variation in the wild of the same animal, paintings were preferred to get the illustration more scientifically accurate.

The authors who started work on the book in 2003 after the Bhutan trust fund (BTF) approved a funding of Nu 2.4 million for the project also extensively reviewed literature of the Zoologicial survey of India and Bombay natural history society, the oldest society of its kind in the world and which holds good information on mammals in this part of the world.
One of the highlights of the field guidebook project is that it is an all Bhutanese venture with no reliance on external expertise.

BTF director Tobgay S. Namgyal said that the field guide project was one of the most high impact projects of the BTF. "Although it is small compared to the rest of our grants this has the potential for a lot of scientific and educational impacts because work of this nature has never been done before specially not by a team of our own Bhutanese professionals," said the director.


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