With more than 72 percent of the country under forest cover Bhutan is a natural paradise. Thanks to a small population and strong Buddhist values that propagate respect and understanding of interdependence with the natural environment, Bhutan today is recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot.
Significant swathes of the forest cover are made up of nine wildlife parks, reserves and sanctuaries within which thrives an unmatched diversity of flora and fauna including rare and endangered mammals such as the Snow leopard, White bellied heron, royal Bengal tiger and the Black necked crane.
As many as 695 bird species and 3,281 plant species have been so far recorded so far. Glaciers high up in the Himalayas feed its numerous rivers and the alpine highlands are home to rare medicinal plants and herbs.
The constitution of Bhutan, which was adopted in 2008, states that 60 percent of the country must remain under forest cover for all times to come. In 2009, during the 15th UN Climate Summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark, Bhutan became a signatory to a declaration to remain a carbon-neutral country.
Below are brief descriptions of the country’s national parks and sanctuaries.
JIGME DORJI WANGCHUCK NATIONAL PARK
Jigme Dorji National Park is the largest protected area with an area of 4329 Sq. km. It spreads across five western districts. The park is home to many endangered species like the Snow Leopard, Blue Sheep, Red Panda, Leopard, Wild Cats, Barking deer and Serow.
ROYAL MANAS NATIONAL PARK
Located in South Central Bhutan, Royal Manas National Park stretches for 1023 Sq Km and shares biological corridors with Manas National Park and Tiger reserve in India. The park was established in 1966 and host Rhinos, Asian Elephants, Bengal Tigers, Leopards, and the Golden Langur. As many as 362 species of birds have been recorded in the park so far.
JIGME SINGYE WANGCHUCK NATIONAL PARK
Jigme Singye Park has an area of 1400 Sq Km park and is home to the Black Mountain Ranges that separate eastern and western Bhutan. The park serves as a sanctuary to Tigers, Black Bears, Leopards and as many as 449 species of birds.
PHIBSOO WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Set up in 1974 the park has a diverse mix of wildlife including the Chital deer, Elephant, Guar, Tiger, the Golden Langur, and Hornbill. It is the second smallest sanctuary in Bhutan.
THRUMSHINGLA NATIONAL PARK
The ancient fir and chirpine forest is found in abundance in Thrumshingla National Park. Birdlife International has recognized the park as an important Bird Area in the Sino-Himalayan mountain forests. Over 68 species of mammals have been recorded including the Bengal tiger, Leopard, Leopard cat, Clouded leopard, Himalayan black bear, Red panda, Musk deer, Capped langur and Malayan giant squirrel.
BOMDELING WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Just 1545 Sq Km in area, the sanctuary in the eastern district of Trashiyangtse is home to Blue Sheep, Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Tiger, Leopard, Black Bear, numerous species of birds, and the Black Necked Cranes. It covers an area of 1545 sq. km. The northern part of the sanctuary is full of glacial lakes, valleys, scrubland, alpine pastures, glaciers, snow peaks and scree slopes.
SAKTEN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Sakten Sanctuary is so remote and near to the Himalayas that it is considered to be the home of Yetis, the mythical abominable snowman. The Brokpas, an indigenous nomadic community, have been living here since centuries. Its attraction also includes forests of rhododendrons.
TORSA STRICT NATURE RESERVE
Located in the western region of Haa District, Torsa Nature Reserve gets its name from the Torsa river, which flows down from Tibet. It was set aside to protect the pristine Alpine forests of that region. This is the only park in Bhutan devoid of any human habitation.
72% of Bhutan is covered in forest, that are both pristine and primary..