Guest Blogger Lhendup Tharchen saves snow leopards in Bhutan
by SIBYLLE on FEBRUARY 26, 2013
Lhendup Tharchen, wildlife biologist from the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan working to save snow leopards and tigers in the only habitat in the world where the two big cats overlap. Photo (c) WildCru.
Lhendup Tharchen is a wildlife biologist and Park Manager in Bhutan. He is originally from Ura, a small village in Bumthang. Lhendup currently works in Jigme Dorji National park and his work focuses on the big cats, snow leopards and tigers, of Bhutan. Bhutan is the only country of twelve snow leopard range countries where snow leopards and tigers share habitat.
Lhendup is our guest blogger and he shares his excitement at the recent proof from camera traps of a snow leopard family in Bhutan.
“Some say “Mountain ghosts” and some refer to them as “Queen of the Himalayas”. I can’t resist to refer them as the” King of Himalayas”, the elusive and cryptic species , the snow leopard.
Bhutan is known for its un-matching biodiversity richness. The per capita of biodiversity richness for a small country like Bhutan would beyond any doubt be one of the highest among the countries.
Until recently, when camera traps were not deployed for snow leopard surveys, irrespective of the concrete evidence reports from the field, many people questioned the true existence of snow leopards. It is at time a big question whether we really have snow leopards in Bhutan.
Not one, not two, but a family of three snow leopards captured by remote camera trap in Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP) in Bhutan. Photo (C) WCP.
This is where and when the modern technology rescued conservationists in Bhutan in raising our heads while talking on snow leopards. In a difficult terrain like Bhutan’s, no amount of energy would suffice the search for Himalayan kings, and last resort one would wish for is magic and magical powers. Rugged and in accessible terrains compounded by high altitudes with low oxygen level is not only an inhibiting factors for the researchers in Bhutan’s high mountain terrains, but a matter of daring to sacrifice one’s life to struggle with the available oxygen in those places. Up on the mountains, where you feel at the height above most of the places on the planet except for few peaks like EVEREST and its competitor ranges, one will wish for only one thing, the SNOW LEOPARD rolling on its tail on the snow covered steep slopes.
Blue sheep, a major prey species for the snow leopard in the Wangchuck Centennial Park in Bhutan. Photo (c) WCP and WWF/Bhutan.
Findings from the camera trapping effort in the northern protected areas of Bhutan in last 2 years span has proven more than anyone could wish the proof to be. Numerous individuals have been captured in Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP) and Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP). Big cats are solitary in nature, but who said that they are lone animals. Like everyone do, they love their families. So is the Snow leopard family in WCP has been captured using the remote camera.
The officials of WCP, disregarding all the above hostile factors gave their best for the conservation and so did they get their best. Thanks to all the dedicated heroes of WCP. There have been many records of pictorial findings throughout the snow leopard ranges, but to me at least, three individuals captured on a single shot in a camera trap is probably the first one ever (pardon me if I have missed any from others parts of the world).
And that is how snow leopards survive in the KINGDOM of BHUTAN and Bhutan is a special place for HIMALAYAN KINGS.”
Thanks for sharing your story, Lhendup, and we wish you and your Park colleagues and all snow leopard partner NGO’s good luck for this work. Bhutan has a wonderful record of environmentalism and conservation and it is awesome to see snow leopards thriving there.
My fortune: A moment with the leading Snow leopard expert on the planet, Dr. Rodney Jackson at Bishkek, Kyrgyztan during the snow leopard forum 2013. Dr. Rodney is also the Executive Director for the Snow leopard Conservancy.
PRINCE was born in the south eastern
province of Nepal, presently known as Lumbini. Answer to the prayers of the
subjects and the wish fulfilment to the King and the queen, a new born prince
was named SIDARTHA. Destined to take over the throne, little Sidartha
changed the destiny of his princehood. Wandering
into the forest, leaving the palace behind was a great sacrifice. Who would
have thought so?....It would have been
full of surprise, shock and disbelief. Decision was final that time and
I suppose that it was a heavenly and karmic decision.
Sidartha’s way of practice wandering
in Nepal and India without having to process visa was a sign of transboundary
peace. For the survival it was full of peace, but for the enlightenment it wasn’t
so. With much difficulties and hardships, a prince who would have enjoyed the
ultimate freedom of worldly materials has attained the buddhahood enlightenment
at the verge of his only skeletal body remains collapsing. Popularly known as
Jagar Dorji Dhen (Bodhgaya in INDIA) is the very place where he attained
enlightenment. I believe that is the very place where Sidartha got an ultimate
enlightenment under the boddhi peepal tree
called Jangchub shing and became so called BUDDHA.
7th July 2013 marked the
day of reminder of princely Buddha. To me I feel that Buddha doesn’t belong to the
Buddhist world only, but to the universe. Therefore, why a blast at the site where he
My personal views:
1.It’s a warning as well as reminder for the host country India
to give due importance to their heritage site and also other countries to
support for the greater cause. We all must be concerned and reminded of the
unseen and unpredictable future.
do we blame Naxalites and terrorists?. I don’t see any reason for the Naxals
and terrorists in planting a bomb at the place of so much respect and
importance. Even the terrorists are human beings in search of peace and
wellbeing. They too have religion. They
have faith in god and mercy on others sufferings.
needs to be strengthened. It could be an alarm call from the concerned group of
individuals to have a tight security for such an important place. Small damage
for now could mean saving the great monument for future.
Mahabodhi temple is a sign of flourishing buddhism. Disturbances are inevitable
in the journey of success and accomplishments. Charming Prince Sidartha
encountered endless disturbances towards the path of Dharma to the destination
of enlightenment. So its a process of glorifying Buddhism.
At this very moment, I write these
instant thoughts with sadness. I am sad that they targeted on the holy eepal
tree (Ficus religiosa) under which Buddha attained enlightenment.
I am not sure if some one has already tried to
raise a seedling from this tree and its high time that something is done to
save its originality through certain means. Cost of losing this holly tree
would mean a lot for our future generation. We may not be able to hand over the
legacy to our children and grand children.
Therefore, its time for us to unite
and cooperate in saving the global heritage monument of great significance. May
peace prevail on earth and happiness to the people around the globe.