A team of researchers from the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) has successfully radio-collared four Bhutan takin (Budorcas taxicolor whitei) in their summer habitat in Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP). This will help provide crucial data on their movement, migration pathways, population dynamics and behavior. In addition, blood, fecal and tissues samples were collected to check for disease and parasites, and to provide DNA for further analyses.
According to the principal investigator, UWICE faculty member Tiger Sangay, this is the start of a long term study to better understand our national animal so that we can use science to guide its conservation. It is important that we know what threats exist for the survival of the Bhutan takin. Long term monitoring of the animals will be carried out in collaboration with JDNP and other parks.
The first two collared males were named Drukpa Kuenley (DK) and Ngi Dasho (ND). The former is a tribute to the 14/15th century Buddhist teacher in honor of the belief that attributes him as the creator of the takin. The latter signifies the independent spirit of the Layap people in addition, two females were also collared. The state-of-the-art radio collars will help researchers identify and track individuals both in their summer as well as winter ranges. More animals will be collared in the next field season to increase sample size to better understand recruitment, mortality and population trends. The Max Planck Institute in Germany, the University of Montana (UM)/Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Bhutan Foundation provided radio collars and other telemetry equipment to the project.
The Bhutan takin is one of four global takin sub-species (the others are Mishmi takin, Szechuan takin, and golden takin) and is found only in Bhutan. They inhabit the forests and valleys of northern Bhutan from upper Paro, Thimphu, Gasa, Punakha, Wangdue, Trongsa and Bumthang.
As the national animal every precaution was taken to ensure that the immobilization and animal handling went very smoothly. Immobilization and veterinary animal care services were provided by the Wildlife Conservation Division of Department of Forests and Park Services and the Smithsonian Institution. Preliminary samples were processed with the help of the National Centre for Animal Health.
As an important Bhutanese-led research on our national animal, UWICE seeks to invite other Bhutanese institutions to partner and further support the project. It is hoped that Bhutanese funding agencies such as the Bhutan Trust Fund would support this important endeavour. The present phase has been primarily funded by the Bhutan Foundation.
Contact: Tiger Sangay (UWICE) - 17118589