In this post
- 1 Wildlife in Bhutan
- 2 National Parks of Bhutan
- 2.1 Wangchuck Centennial National Park
- 2.2 Jigme Dorji National Park
- 2.3 Royal Manas National Park
- 2.4 Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park
- 2.5 Phrumsengla National Park
- 2.6 Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary
- 2.7 Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary
- 2.8 Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary
- 2.9 Jomotshangkha Wildlife Sanctuary
- 2.10 Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve
Wildlife in Bhutan
National Animal of Bhutan – Takin
A subspecies of the gray wolf, the Tibetan wolf is native to the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas. It is slightly larger than its European cousins and has a thicker and lighter fur.
The wolves get a bad rap for hunting domestic stock, particularly sheep and goats which makes them unwelcome neighbours for the local herders. For the best chance of spotting wolves in Bhutan, visit Wangchuck Centennial National Park.
National Parks of Bhutan
Bhutan’s protected areas cover a total of 19,750.57 square kilometres – nearly the size of Switzerland. And even more importantly, all of Bhutan’s National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are connected to each other either directly or by the biological corridors that allow for the movement of animals between the different reserves, maintaining the genetic diversity of wildlife populations.
Here is the list of all Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks of Bhutan.
Wangchuck Centennial National Park
Spanning across the high-altitude wilderness of Northern Bhutan and covering over 4,914 square kilometres, Wangchuck Centennial National Park is the largest national park of Bhutan. The snow-covered mountain peaks of Wangchuck Centennial are the source of water for Bhutan’s four major rivers. This is one of the coldest areas in Bhutan with 85% of the park remaining under snow cover through the winter months.
Northern Bhutan has the highest proportion of land designated as protected areas. Wangchuck Centennial National Park is adjacent Jigme Dorji National Park, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary and Thrumshingla National Park. It is also connected to Jigme Singye National Park by a biological corridor.
Wangchuck Centennial is home to 23 species of large mammals including the tiger, snow leopard, wolf, takin and Himalayan black bear, as well as over 100 species of birds.
Jigme Dorji National Park
Jigme Dorji National Park is the second biggest and one of the oldest National Parks of Bhutan. It lies in the north-western of the kingdom and covers 4,316 square kilometres. It is home to a great number of Bhutan animals and the only place in the world where both: the Bengal tiger and the snow leopard occur.
Overall, the park is home to 328 species of birds and 36 species of mammals, including musk deer and Asiatic wild dog and Bhutan’s largest population of Takin. The best way to explore Jigme Dorji National Park is by taking one of the popular treks: Jomolhari, Laya Gasa, or Snowman trek. The last two treks are quite challenging and require a good level of fitness.
Royal Manas National Park
Lying adjacent to Manas National Park in the Indian state of Assam, Royal Manas National Park is the oldest and 4th largest national park in Bhutan. Stretching over 1,057 square kilometres in the south-central part of the country it shares boundaries with four other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Bhutan.
The park is composed of four habitat types: monsoon forest, subtropical forest, warm broadleaved forest and cool broadleaved forest. These forests are home to Bengal tiger, Indian rhino, Asian elephant, water buffalo, pygmy hog and an extraordinary diversity of birds. Royal Manas National Park is one of the top birdwatching spots in Asia with at least 430 species of birds recorded in the park.
There are a number of options available for exploring Royal Manas, from trekking to rafting in the shadow of the snow-covered mountains.
Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park
Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park stretches over 1,730 square kilometres in Central Bhutan. It is home to at least 39 species of mammals including tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, Himalayan black beer, musk deer, red panda and the Endangered golden langur.
More than 270 species of birds occur at Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, including the globally threatened species like the black-necked cranes, monal pheasant, satyr tragopan, rufous-necked hornbill and white-bellied heron.
There are two treks in the park: Nabji-Korphu and Adha-Rukha. Neither is particularly strenuous.
Phrumsengla National Park
At just over 900 square kilometres, Phrumsengla National Park is the smallest national park in Bhutan. But despite its modest size, the park provides habitat for 71 species of mammals. It is also one of the best birdwatching destinations in Asia. An impressive 361 bird species have been recorded in the park, including rufous-necked hornbill, beautiful nuthatch, Pallas’s fish eagle, chestnut-breasted partridge, yellow-rumped honeyguide, Ward’s trogon, tawny fish owl.
Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary
Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Bhutan, covering 740.60 square kilometres in the eastern-most part of the kingdom. It is best known for the diversity of Rhododendron species, which is a bushy plant.
This remote sanctuary protects a wide diversity of wildlife species, including snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan black bear, barking deer, Himalayan red fox, the hoary-bellied squirrel. But Sakteng’s most controversial claim to fame is the presence of Yeti in its wilderness.
Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhutan’s largest wildlife sanctuary, Bomdeling stretches over 1,520 square kilometres in the north-east of the country. It is home to a high diversity of wildlife species including tiger, snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan musk deer, rufous-necked hornbill, chestnut-breasted partridge, wood snipe and Palla’s fish eagle, as well as Bhutan’s only endemic butterfly – the Ludlow’s Bhutan swallowtail.
Like Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Bomdeling provides wintering habitat for the black-necked crane. Around 150 cranes spend their winter in Bomdeling each year.
Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary
The relatively small Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary covers just over 268 square kilometres in southern Bhutan, near the Indian border. It is the only natural sal forest habitat in Bhutan, and it is primarily known for providing habitat for the chital deer.
Apart from chital, the sanctuary is home to 27 species of mammals, including the Asian elephant, gaur and golden langur. The birds are abundant in Phibsoo as well, with 132 recorded species, including the hornbill.
Jomotshangkha Wildlife Sanctuary
Another relatively small protected area is Jomotshangkha Wildlife Sanctuary in the southeast of the country. It protects 334 square kilometres of sub-tropical forest, broadleaved forest and some grasslands. The sanctuary provides habitat for some of Bhutan’s most threatened wildlife, including pygmy hog and Hispid hare. It is also home to four different species of hornbills.
Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve
Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve is the only strict nature reserve in Bhutan’s network of protected areas. Lying in the border region with India and Tibet, the 609 square kilometre wilderness is free from human settlements which makes it one of the most pristine temperate alpine ecosystems in the Himalayas. A biological corridor connects Jigme Khesar with Jigme Dorji National Park.
The reserve is home to a wide range of wildlife species, including the clouded leopard, takin, serow, red panda, Tibetan snowcock and rufous-necked hornbill.