22 Mar 2024 By May Ng

Discover and Protect: Exploring the Beauty of Bhutan’s Native Species

Lying among a spectacularly rugged terrain, the Kingdom of Bhutan is the world’s first carbon-negative country and prioritises policies focused on sustainability and conservation. Environmentally friendly initiatives help preserve Bhutan’s stunning natural resources – from the lush forests that cover 70% of the Kingdom to the mountain range and valley habitats for threatened and endangered species. Additionally, five national parks, four wildlife sanctuaries, and a nature reserve cover 42% of Bhutan.

Home to an impressive variety of wildlife, the country’s pristine protected landscapes offer nature lovers the chance to spot over 25 species of endangered birds, including the iconic, black-necked crane, red pandas, golden langurs, and the revered mountain tigers. The only country in the world where mountain tigers and snow leopards can be spotted in the same areas, Bhutan is fast becoming a champion of tiger conservation – the latest Bhutan National Tiger Survey Report highlights a 27% increase in the Kingdom’s tiger population to 131 adult tigers.

Bhutan hosts festivals celebrating its wildlife, providing a unique and culturally enriching experience for those seeking to explore the country’s animal kingdom. These festivals are a hidden treasure of the kingdom that gives visitors a chance to explore the diverse and stunning ecosystem and witness the beauty of various species that make up Bhutan’s wildlife.

Black Necked Crane Festival

A festive highlight on the calendar, the Black-Necked Crane Festival in beautiful Gangtey Goenpa will be celebrated on 15 November 2024. Located approximately four hours’ drive from Thimphu, visitors journeying to this festival will witness the celebration of the returning magnificent black-necked cranes to Bhutan from parts of Tibet, China and Arunachal Pradesh, India.

The Black-Necked Crane Festival is a tribute to one of Bhutan’s most beloved animals and has a primary objective of raising awareness within communities about the importance of conserving this spectacular species of bird. Serving as a platform to highlight the hidden gems of Gangtey and Phobjikha Valley, this festival boosts the surrounding local economy whilst showcasing the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Jomolhari (Snow Leopard) Festival

The Snow Leopard Festival in Soe, Jangothang, is a community-based festival for conserving snow leopards. It is an exquisitely themed two-day event, taking place between 14th and 15th October 2024, celebrated at the base of Mount Jomolhari by communities located among one of the world’s most scenic trekking routes through the Himalayas.

This celebration honours the coexistence of the cultures of the towns and the natural beauty surrounding them, including the rare yet beautiful snow leopards. Highlights of the festival include exciting mask dances, a variety of folk songs, beautifully executed dances by the villagers, and a chance to meet the highlanders of Bhutan and witness the stunning local animals.

Takin Festival

Looking forward to 2025, visitors can explore the annual Takin festival between the 21st and 23rd of February in the Gasa district of Bhutan. This festival is a celebration of the country’s national animal and showcases Bhutan’s rich natural heritage. It aims to raise awareness of biodiversity conservation and offers a special opportunity to get an up-close look at Bhutan’s favourite beast. The festival is also geared towards ensuring financial sustainability for park management and providing off-season ecotourism possibilities while supporting upland communities.

Family of Takin, national animal of Bhutan. The 'Dong Gyem Tsey' or Takin has been chosen as the National Animal of Bhutan. It is associated to religious history and mythology of the country.