The zeal to explore something new every day is what differentiates humans from other creatures. We would be lying to ourselves if we said that the intimate interaction with nature in dense forests, exquisite animal species and pristine lakes do not enrich our lives. After a day full of hard work and chaos, when we go to bed with tired eyes, we all dream of exploring the unspoilt parts of nature. The wildlife sanctuaries of Bhutan, preserving the rich resources of the nation displays the rare flora and fauna of the region.
With this goal in mind, there are four Wildlife Sanctuaries in Bhutan, all very spectacular and must-visit sites.
Located in Trashigang District, in the easternmost ecosystems and landscapes of Bhutan, Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is immensely popular among the tourists and locals. It holds a lot of importance by inculcating eastern blue pine, a typical coniferous evergreen which is found in the vicinity of long stretches of Himalayas. It grows in the mountain valleys which are present at a height of 1800m - 4000m above the sea level. Bhutan's national flower, the blue poppy, also blooms here and looks fascinating in the spring season.
Not just the exquisite flora, but even the fauna of this place is amazingly vivid. A prudent bird called black-rumped magpie, which is regarded as one of the most intelligent birds and believed to be one of the most intelligent of all non-human animals, can be spotted here
This sanctuary is also renowned to keep uncanny creatures such as yeti, the abominable snowman. Although there is no such scientific evidence of this mythical animal, locals will always give you an anecdote or excerpt about their encounter with it. And even though you know that it is just a speculation, it is always fun to go inside with a hope of might actually seeing one.
Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the north-western part of Bhutan covering an area of 1,545 square kilometres with 420 square kilometres of buffer zone encompassing parts of Trashiyangtse, Lhuentse, and Mongar district. This quaint sanctuary shares border with Tibet region of China and northeastern regions of India. The sanctuary has been equipped with extra security checks because of one of the endangered species that it protects, i.e. red panda.
The Red panda is considered to be a very calm and sluggish creature. They are believed to spend 14 to 18 hours on trees, eating twigs most of the times. It is always bewildering to see one of these endearing creatures.
This protected area also hosts migratory and breeding grounds for black-necked cranes that come here every year from mid-November to early March. Bumdeling wildlife sanctuary is a pure heaven for many butterflies. Almost 130 species of beautiful butterflies are known to inhabit here and watching them hovering around flowers is always remarkable. Apart from natural beauty, the religious and cultural aspects of human beings are also known here to thrive. Rigsum Gompa, the mystic Singye Dzong and Dechenphodrang Lhakhang, all of these places have very tranquilising vibes and it is always good to spend some time here. The best season to visit this splendid place is from March to August.
Pride of South-eastern Bhutan, Jomotsangkha Wildlife Sanctuary was formerly known as Khaling Neoli. Sharing its borders with the state of Assam, it is the smallest protected region in the country area-wise, spanning an area of around 335 square kilometres. Giving its visitors plenty of reasons to go open-mouthed, the major highlight here is the presence of rare Pygmy Hog, which attracts hundreds of visitors from all around the globe. Apart from it, there are various other wildlife species such as Gaur, Asian Elephants, Tigers and Hispid Hares, which only lucky ones get to see in their lifetime.
Its altitude going as high as 1500 metres, the aura of this wildlife sanctuary refreshes one's soul and tempts one to forever stay in these surroundings. The forest cover ranges from evergreen subtropical forests to broadleaf evergreen forests. The green cover is immense which keeps the air pure and pollution-free.
With beautiful birds like chestnut-breasted partridge and Rufous-necked hornbill often spotted perched on the branches of trees, cooing and making the environment even more tempting, this is one of the must-visit wildlife sanctuaries of Bhutan. The ideal months to visit this treasure trove are March to May and late-August to November. It is because the temperature during this time is just perfect for fauna to thrive and many animals can be spotted at this time.
Originally set up to protect the natural sal forests of the country, Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary is truly a marvel to behold. Housing only a sparse human population, it is located in the southern part of Bhutan, sharing its border with the Indian state of Assam. A home to many endangered animal species such as Golden Langurs, Gaur, Asian Elephants etc, the speciality of this wildlife sanctuary is its Chital Deers (Spotted Deers). Many birds, including hornbill, are found here in predominant numbers.
Due to its rich wildlife population, it attracts many travel enthusiasts every year. The best time to visit is March to June and September to November.
The oldest national park in Bhutan, Royal Manas National Park is one of the largest national parks in the country. Known as the "conservation showpiece of the Kingdom", it is the largest example of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems in Bhutan. Occupying south-central Bhutan, it shares its southern borders with Manas Tiger Reserve in India. Rich in wildlife species, including many of the endangered ones, it is a natural marvel that displays the distinct flora and fauna of Bhutan and the Himalayan Region. Officially set up in 1966 as a wildlife sanctuary, the Royal Manas National Park was later converted to a National Park in 1993. Spread across an area of 1,057 square kilometres, it covers the districts or dzongkhags of Zhemgang, Sarpang and Pemagatshel in Southern Bhutan.
Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Wildlife is the nature's most precious treasure which needs to be safeguarded. This is ensured at the wildlife sanctuaries of Bhutan. Guess that is why one gets to enjoy most natural of beauty in the country!