Bhutan’s High Altitude Tigers

This photo is of historical value for being Bhutan’s first tiger picture in the wild in ThrumsingLa and at the highest elevation (3,000 m) so far reported for the Bengal tiger. Note primula in the foreground. These primrose Primula denticulata occur from temperate forest to an altitude of 4,500 m, suggesting tigers at higher altitudes in Bhutan.

In Bhutan Himalaya, tigers were recorded at 4,110 m during Yonzon’s study (2000). Perhaps, this is the only tiger photo ever taken at such Himalayan heights. Tigers in Bhutan have a wide vertical distribution because forests are contiguous. Dr. Pralad Yonzon, along with a four-member Bhutanese team has been successful in trapping tigers in their cameras in Bhutan on April 11, 2000. The Bhutanese team from ThrumshingLa National Park included Sangay Dorji, Kencho Gyeltshen, Hem Raj Mongar, and Dil Bahadur Gurung.

ThrumshingLa National Park occupies 768 km2 of mountain forest landscapes in the central part of Bhutan, where red pandas, capped langurs and rufous-necked hornbill including 276 species of birds occur. The Park is extremely rich in biodiversity and forms the centerpiece of the contiguous distribution of the tiger population in Bhutan. Therefore, it is an extremely important area for biodiversity conservation. Dr. Yonzon who has conducted wildlife surveys in ThrumshingLa National Park including the preparation of the park management plan, says that “pugmarks at 4,110 meters suggest that tigers use expansively high altitude pass to move into adjoining valleys.”

ThrumshingLa National Park and its neighboring areas are occupied by over 2,000 people who are primarily agrarian. Therefore, it has similar human dimension and conservation issues like elsewhere. Therefore, the park management seeks to reconcile nature conservation and community development through participatory planning and consensus building.

Yonzon, P. 2000. Status of Wildlife Conservation ThrumshingLa National Park, RGOB, Bhutan

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