Sunday, 31 July 2011

Bhutan - Big cat’s presence in Park bodes well

International Tiger Day 30 July, 2011 - That there are about 25-35 tigers roaming the jungles of the Royal Manas National Park alone showed the outcome of Bhutan’s conservation efforts.

This estimation was revealed yesterday as Bhutan joined the 13 tiger range countries to observe the International Tiger Day and raise awareness on the plight of the big cats in the wild.

Eighteen individual tigers were captured by the 176 camera traps that were set up in 88 camera stations for 5,280 nights. It covered the three ranges, Gomphu, Manas and Umling under the Manas Park.

The survey involved 60 forest personnel from the Royal Manas National Park, Wildlife Conservation Division and the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Conservation and Environment.

With an area of 1,057 km square, the park runs through Zhemgang, Sarpang and Pema Gyatshel including 34km square of Tingtibe area.

Conservation officials said all areas under forest cover in Bhutan are a potential tiger habitat, and that Bhutan has recorded the Royal Bengal Tiger ( Panthera tigris tigris) freely roaming the rugged mountain as high as 4200m.

Estimating the tiger population at the park, they said, sets the bench marks for future tiger conservation besides revealing the park’s conservation outcomes.

Wildlife Conservation Division’s chief forest officer Sonam Wangchuk said similar surveys would now be done in other parks to get a nationwide figure by 2013.

“The day is observed to create awareness about this gigantic animal, especially among the younger generation,” Sonam Wangchuk said.

An environmentalist since the ‘60s, Dasho Paljor J Dorji, who also gave a talk yesterday, said Bhutan has been looking after tigers since the ‘80s but was not publicly publicised.

“There wasn’t much money for tiger conservation but, of late, there’s more attention given to tigers,” he said. “But we shouldn’t allow foreigners to come and conduct studies.”

Although revered in Bhutan ever since Guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism by riding on the back of a flying tigress, the importance to tiger conservation began with legal support in 1995, when the Forests and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan labelled the tiger as “totally protected.”

Since 2003, records with the conservation division showed that 543 livestocks were reported to be preyed on by the tiger to date.

For this, the division has to pay a compensation of Nu 2,352,250. So far Nu 2,293,000 has been paid off.

The day, which will be an annual event, was also marked with the launch of car stickers, a book on the White Belliied Heron by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature, prize distribution to winners of the painting competition on tiger conservation and talks by youth and student representatives.

“Tiger is the most important species in the ecosystem and, if they’re conserved, the rest in the ecosystem are taken care of,” an official from the conservation division said.

By Sonam Pelden

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bhutan Tour: A Miraculous and Pleasurable Journey

Bhutan "The land of Thunder Dragon" is a astonishing country in South Asia. Its ancient and rich culture grabs the attention of the visitors. The Himalayas makes nation more beautiful. Its amazing loveliness will make you speechless. Spiritual people of a country have simple and beautiful life and they always use to welcome their tourist with a welcome smile on their face. It is known for its marvelous landscape beauty, wonderful mountain peaks, beautiful art and architecture, striking wildlife, historical relics, etc. Travelers will enjoy a lot in between the breezy atmosphere of the place. On this journey you will feel like that you are in your own world.

The astounding attractions of Bhutan will make your trip more pleasurable. Thimpu and Paro valley are the two prime tourist's attractions of a nation. The miraculous and scenic beauty of these valleys will win the heart of visitors. Some other remarkable attractions which will you visit on your tour are: Ta Dzong, Folk Heritage Museum, Wangdiphodrang, Tongsa, Bumthang Valley, Mongar, National Museum of Bhutan, Lhuntse, Taktsang Monastery, Rinpung Dzong, Druguel Dzong, National Textile Museum, Chendebji Chorten, National Memorial Chorten, Bhutan Palaces and temples, etc. The tremendous monasteries will remind you about Buddhist time and their culture. One will also enjoy the different popular festivals like Crane Festival, Jambe Festival, and the Autumn Festivals.

Apart from all above sightseeing, you will also explore the exotic wildlife on your Bhutan Trips. The well-known wildlife destinations are: Jigme Dorji National Park, Royal Manas National Park, Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary, Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, Jigme Singye Wanchuck National Park, Thrumshingla National Park, Torsa Strict Nature Reserve, Khaling Neoli Wildlife Sanctuary, Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, etc. tourists will also engage themselves for shopping. Shopping with hot and delicious food is must for a healthier and pleasant journey. The famous things which you will buy from the popular markets are: hand made textile, wooden products, carpets, metal jewelry, shawls, scarves, old coins, etc. You may also try different and unique traditional dress of a country made up of cotton.

Bhutan tours also offer you superb opportunity to experience the breathtaking adventurous sports. The nation is located on the mountains and valley of Himalayas range that's why it is the preeminent option for adventure lovers. Some popular exciting sports are: trekking, kayaking, rafting, day hikes, bicycling, mountain biking, rock climbing, etc.

After this miraculous journey you will love the place from the bottom of your heart. So come and spend your lovely vacations in between the green valleys, cool atmosphere, natural attractiveness and different culture of Bhutan.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Bhutan - UN unanimously adopts happiness as the Ninth MDG

The United Nations has adopted Bhutan’s proposal to include happiness as the Ninth Millennium Development Goal (MDG).

The proposal was adopted unanimously by the 193 member countries at the UN headquarters in New York yesterday.

Speaking to the media today, the Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley said this is a significant achievement for Bhutan.

Bhutan’s proposal to include “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development” was made by the Prime Minister at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last year.

The adoption of the proposal means happiness has been officially placed on the agenda of the United Nations. It is a fitting tribute to Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

It will provide an opportunity for the international community to explore alternative measures for addressing well-being and social progress in their national policies and programmes.

The reasoning is that since happiness is the ultimate desire of every individual, it must also be the purpose of development to create the enabling conditions for happiness.

The Prime Minister said Bhutan will continue to provide leadership in the development of the concept, implementation, and promotion and translate happiness in terms of public policy among the members of the UN family.

At the regional level, Bhutan was successful in incorporating the GNH philosophy as part of the Ulaanbaatar Declaration in April this year. The declaration was further considered and adopted by the 67th session of the UNESCAP in May this year.

Bhutan will host an international conference on GNH in August where participants from diverse backgrounds will share their interpretations of happiness.

Cr :

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Bhutan - His Majesty graces graduate convocation

His Majesty the King advised graduates from colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan who are attending their convocation to aim high, use time wisely and work with wisdom and courage.

This is the first joint convocation to be held for graduates from various colleges under the university. In the past, the convocations were held separately with the graduates travelling to their respective colleges to attend the ceremony.

His Majesty the King, who is also the Chancellor of the Royal University of Bhutan, was accompanied by the would-be Queen Jetsun Pema.

His Majesty asked the graduates to serve the country with dedication saying they can do much to ensure a better future for both themselves and the country.

One thousand and eighty eight university graduates of 2008, 2009 and 2010 attended the convocation.

The convocation ended with Tashi Moenlam from the Tsula Lopen of the Zhung Dratshang, the graduates and the faculty members of the member colleges.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Bhutan - His Majesty grants dhar and kabney to the Gups

His Majesty the King granted dhar and kabney to 190 Gups at the Tashichhodzong today. They are the first democratically elected Gups. A Press release from the Royal Office of Media says that the award of kabney to Gups by His Majesty is unprecedented and symbolises the importance and apolitical nature of the local government in the new governance era.

Speaking to the Gups, His Majesty said in the few years since 2008, we have conducted the general elections, adopted the constitution and formed the houses of parliament, constitutional bodies and the Supreme Court. His Majesty said today we have accomplished yet another milestone in establishing the first local governments under democracy. He said all the founding pillars of democracy in Bhutan have been laid so early in his reign as he fulfills the vision of his father of a vibrant democracy.

His Majesty said as a symbol of the independence and importance of local government, he is awarding them kabneys from the throne. “Local government is not the lowest level of government,” His Majesty said. He said it is the nearest and closest level of government for the people. For rural Bhutanese, local governments are indispensable avenues for participation in democracy and development. In the long run, the success of democracy in Bhutan His Majesty said will be determined by the success of local governments.

His Majesty added that the Gups might think that His Majesty have detailed their duties and responsibilities and the importance of local government but have said few words of felicitation and praise for their success in the elections. He said their work is yet to begin and praise will not solve any of the problems facing the people.

His Majesty said he will be the first to commend and praise their achievements, if, after five years he finds that the Gups have served their constituencies well, that they have worked hard and without prejudice and above all without hurting the sentiments of the people.

The Gups led by the Venerable Yangbi lopen of the central monastic body offered tashi moenlam prayers to His Majesty the King. The Gups said they felt privileged to have received such recognition from His Majesty the King. They will now serve for a term of five years. According to the Gyalpoi Zimpoen Dasho Penjore, Gup’s kabney like any other position-tied decorations can only be worn for the duration of the tenure.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Bhutan Treks - The Brokpa People and Their Legends

Eastern Bhutan is arguably one of the world's most beautiful regions - and it is home to the culturally unique Brokpa people, who live in Merak and Sakten. For almost two decades, Bhutan treks in that part of the country were not permitted by the government for undisclosed reasons - rumours alleged the desire to protect the Yeti - but the regions of Merak and Sakten are now open again. Bhutan treks there offer the truly memorable opportunity to meet these wonderful people.

Ethnically Unique

The Brokpas speak Sharchop, a different language to that spoken elsewhere in
Bhutan - more noticeable to visitors on Bhutan treks, they dress uniquely. Brokpa people are easily recognised by their woven red jackets, often detailed with stitched animals, and curious black yak hats. These hats have five spidery legs, designed to channel rainwater away from the wearer's head and body. As befitting the name Brokpa, which can be translated to mean 'nomad' or 'herder', the people remain semi-nomadic yak herders, relying on the animal for clothing, food and transport. For anyone with an interest in minority ethnic groups and the preservation of traditional ways of living in an increasingly modern, homogenous world, Bhutan treks in Merak and Sakten are a must.

Aum Jono and the King's Demand

Like many Himalayan peoples, the Brokpa have a story of their origin. They moved to
Bhutan many hundreds of years ago - according to them, this is because they once lived in Tibet, until a conflict with a ruler. This king demanded that his people remove the top of a mountain because it blocked the sun, covering his palace in shadow. One woman, Aum Jono, who did not think this ridiculous order should be obeyed, told her people that it was far easier to remove a head than a mountain-top. The Brokpas agreed. After killing the king, Aum Jono led them to safety and prosperity in eastern Bhutan. She is now revered as a protecting deity, with a festival held in her honour.

Brokpas and the Yeti

Anyone planning to go on
Bhutan treks will surely have heard of the Yeti. To the Brokpas this creature is called Megay, and yak herders to this day report encountering Megay in high, thickly forested altitudes, typically when they have pursued a straying yak. According to their remarkable tales, the Megay consumes bamboo shrubs, is white or light red in colour, and smells of garlic. The Megay is not a curiosity, as it is to Westerners, but a guardian deity of remote mountainous regions - and the Brokpas accordingly treat it with respect.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Bhutan - Search continues for two missing workers

Samdingkha Bridge Collapse 4 July, 2011 - Four days after the Samdingkha bridge in Punakha collapsed, police, army personnel and construction workers continue their search for the two workers who went missing after they fell into the river.

An 18-year-old JCB backhoe loader operator’s assistant and a 22-year-old road roller operator went missing since July 1 after the JCB backhoe they were in, to launch the bridge’s metal sheet, fell into the Samdingkhachu and Punatsangchu.

Six workers were inside the JCB backhoe loader at the time of the incident.

While two workers, a 22-year-old excavator operator and 26-year-old site in-charge escaped with minor injuries, the body of a 21-year-old site supervisor was fished out a few hours after the bridge collapsed.

The body of the 19-year-old tractor driver was found at a shallow riverbank, 2km away from the accident site on the morning of July 2.

Police in Punakha said the swollen river must have washed away the bodies of the two missing workers.

“We have already informed police in Wangduephodrang check post and Punatsangchu officials to look for the bodies,” an official said.

The construction of the 60m double-decked reinforced bailey bridge began seven months ago.

It gave way when the backhoe loader, laying metal sheets on the bridge, reached midway.

By Tashi Dema

Friday, 1 July 2011

Bhutan - Bhutan Packages for the Wild Life Adventurer

When you begin planning your leisure travel to destinations far and beyond your borders, you are often faced with a bewildering array of choices not simply about the country or region you can visit but also the type of tour package you can consider. traveling to Bhutan doesn't make it on everyone's travel wish list under normal circumstances. However, if we tell you about a few types of Bhutan packages and focus on one of them, may be we will change your mind.

Bhutan packages for just about everyone

First a gentle introduction. bhutan is a small kingdom in Asia just north of India nestled quietly in the foothills of the Himalayan range of mountains seriously far away from the madding crowd as Thomas Hardy would have put it. The mountain kingdom, as it is often referred to, didn't let too many visitors into the country until recently. Why you ask? The royal family wanted to keep the country "as it is" without compromising the incredible beauty and magnificence of the nation's topography and landscape that is so often corroded by millions of tourists. Even today, every Bhutan travel agency offering a Bhutan package is required to register and seek permission from the government through a tightly monitored visa process before a tour group or individual tourist is permitted to enter the country. Except for a beach vacation experience, the country offers literally every type of organized travel including:

• Hiking and trekking packages
• Relaxing and slow-paced sightseeing packages
• Honeymoon packages
• Photography packages
• Spiritual and religious packages
• Outdoor adventure packages such as packages which include river rafting and kayaking

And the most popular which we have kept for the last, wildlife adventure packages.

Bhutan Packages Featuring Himalayan Wildlife

Some years ago, an internationally acclaimed wildlife expert named Dr. Alan Rabinowitz decided to visit Bhutan to find out if the high altitudes for which the country is so popular could actually support wildlife in the real sense of the term. He turned to technology combined with his keen instinct for an answer. With assistance from an experienced photography veteran named Gordon Buchanan who was employed with BBC at that time, he set up several cameras with built-in infra red motion sensors covering a wide expanse of the Himalayan range. The cameras were monitored remotely for performance and when the team returned three months later, they were amazed by the results. They found that wildlife in Bhutan was alive and kicking for sure. Leopards, red foxes, Jungle cats, Himalayan black bears, monkeys and even tigers were all co-existing in pure and pristine harmony in the lap of nature. What is more, wildlife enthusiasts and researchers were amazed to learn that the cameras had captured the images of two wild tigers, a male and a female. The footage clearly revealed that the male tiger was busy scent-marking which indicated that he was well ensconced in the habitat of his choice. The female tiger was seen lactating which was grounds to conclude that there were many more tigers in the area than was evident in the footage. Like everyone else, tigers didn't seem to have a problem with the altitude.

It goes without saying that for an avid wildlife adventurer, Bhutan packages that showcase the country's magnificent fauna would be a dream come true. Many Bhutan travel agencies offer opportunities for organized Bhutan travel which include five star hotel accommodation, four meals, hotel and airport transfers, English-speaking tour guides and transportation for less than $300 a day all inclusive. So the next time you are all set to plan a vacation, why not come to the fairy kingdom of Bhutan and check out what you have been missing.

Bhutan - Gelephu hospital overwhelmed by labourers

Hundreds of Indian labourers are rushing to the Gelephu hospital to check their health and obtain a fitness certificate so that they can work for the many hydropower projects in Bhutan.

The exodus has been continuing for four days stretching the already limited human resource at the hospital. The doctors are struggling to cope with the rush.

The labour agents in Gelephu said the demand for labourers from the various hydropower projects has increased in the last few months.

Karma Dema, a labour agent, said “it is extremely difficult to get the labourers checked and process the certificate.”

Tashi Choedup, another labour agent, said they “would be grateful if there were separate doctors to conduct the tests.”

The labourers were brought from as far as Kolkata.

The Medical Superintendent in Gelephu said they “have to attend to serious patients first. Due to shortage of doctors, we cannot even treat all our patients. We talked with the labour agents and informed the ministry to find ways to solve the problem.

Every day, more than 200 labourers visit the hospital but doctors can check and issue certificates to only about 60 labourers.

There are nine labour agents in Gelephu.