Bhutan's biodiversity showcased in new book

Posted in News on Friday, October 5th, 2018

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is well on its way to becoming the greenest nation on the planet and deserves full credit for prioritising ecology over economy. The Government is making a determined effort to steer away from unchecked exploitation of its natural resources and has set aside half of its land area for environmental preservation. It has also become the first fully organic nation in the world.

Village Ways has recently teamed up with Joyful Bhutan, headed by Ugyen Tarchen, to offer inspiring holidays in Bhutan, including stays in the community-managed accommodation of Ura village in remote Bhumthang district. This lies in the Phrumsengla National Park (formerly Thrumshingla National Park), which has a rich biodiversity that covers all ecotypes of Bhutan and the largest and richest temperate forests in the Eastern Himalayas.

The book on the “Protected Areas and Biodiversity of Bhutan” by Lhendup Tharchen provides concise information on the Bhutan’s Biodiversity and Natural heritage. Please try to get hold of a copy when you visit. The chapter on Thrumshingla (now renamed Phrumsengla) provides an insight into the wildlife and ecology of the area around Ura. As he states: “The park contains 622 species of plants, 70 species of mammals, 361 species of birds and some uncommon and rare butterfly, amphibian and reptile species”. Wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers will be inspired by a stay in Ura and the surrounding pristine environment of the park.

The flora of the park encompasses species from the subtropical to the alpine zone. In spring, Rhododendron species make the scene magical, with flowers ranging from pink, yellow, red, orange, lemon, saffron to scarlet colours. The range of plants is illustrated in the list below from Lhendup’s booklet.

Trees and Shrub Species

Tsuga dumosa
Morus macroura
Acer campbellii
Toonia ciliata
Larix griffithiana
Ficus semicordata
Picea spinulosa
Duabanga grandiflora
Abies densa
Bischofia javanica
Herbaceous, Fern, Grass Species
Quercus glauca
Lobelia nubigena
Sorbus insignus
Cymbopogon flexuosus
Pinus wallichiana
Drynaria propinqua
Rhododendron sp
Borinda grossa
Pinus roxburghii
Yushania sp
Terminalia sp
Carex nivalis
Betula alnoides
Ephedera gerardiana
Betula utilis
Viola bhutanica
Juniperus recurva
Primula umbratilis
Prunus sp
Daphne ludlowii

The mammals in the park Flagship include the iconic Bengal Tiger and the Red Panda. Species listed by Lhendup are given below:

Mammal Species

Himalayan Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis)
Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris)
Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata)
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Golden Cat (Catopurna temmincki)
Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)
Musk Deer (Moschus crysogaster)
Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)
Himalayan Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus)
Yellow-throated Marten (Martes flavigula)
Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus)
Himalyan Goral (Naemorhedus goral)
Malayan Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor)
Grey Langur (Semnopithecus entellus)
Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei)
Capped Langur (Trachypithecus pileatus)

For birdwatchers, the checklist included by Lhendup includes globally-threatened and rare species.

Bird Species

Wood Snipe (Gallinago nemoricola)
Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis)
Beautiful Nuthatch (Sitta formosa)
White-naped Yuhina (Yuhina bakeri)
Broad-billed Warbler (Tickellia hodgsoni)
Brown Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica)
Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)
Chestnut-breasted Partridge (Arborophila mandellii)
Ultramarine Flycatcher (Ficedula superciliaris)
Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus)
Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra)
Chestnut Thrush (Turdus rubrocanus)
Himalayan Monal (Lophorus impejanus)
Wedge-billed Wren Babler (Sphenocichia humei)

And not to forget the attractive butterflies found in the park, such as Common Cooper, Common Flash, Dark-clouded Yellow, Green-veined White, Mottled Emigrant, Indian Fritillary, Large Silverstripe, Tabby, Common Leopard and Golden Sapphire.

Find out more abour our holidays to Bhutan and meet some of these amazing species, immerse yourself in the stunning mountain scenery and meet the hospitable and cultured people.

Our thanks to Lhendup Tharchen for his book “Protected Areas and Biodiversity of Bhutan”, 2018

Keith Virgo

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