Hobby: Whenever he meets anyone, Pema Lhendup, 46, likes to talk about the birds. If given an opportunity, he easily includes the plants as well.

He knows their common as well as scientific names. His knowledge on the uses of a plant and their medicinal value is above average.

For instance, he points to a plant by the name of Ageratina Adenophora. He says it is a native plant to Mexico. “It is toxic for the horse and it could lead to respiratory complications if consumed,” Pema Lhendup explains.

He added that the plant helps to clot blood if it is smashed and applied on wounds. It is commonly known as crofton weed.

He opens the photo gallery on his smart phone and flips through photographs of different plants while sharing his knowledge on each.

He also keep a small diary in which he maintains records of different flowers and plants with sketches and descriptions.

On the window sill of his bedroom, old books on mushrooms, plants, flowers, trees, butterflies and fishes are stacked neatly.

An old pair of binoculars sits beside him, which he uses to spot birds.

Its undeniable that Pema has a passion for the local biodiversity.

Pema Lhendup is from Tama village in Trong gewog, Zhemgang and is commonly known as Bajay.

Pema Lhendup claims to be familiar with most of the native flora and fauna in Zhemgang. He is also an avid birder, which is no surprise since Zhemgang boasts of a large and varied bird population.

Pema Lhendup says that birding is a job that requires great passion as it requires long waits in the forest.

According to Pema, birds can be seen only in the evenings and mornings and therefore he entertains his guests with his knowledge of the local plant life. “I know a numbers of things in the wild but I find it difficult to remember all their common names and scientific names sometimes,” he said.

He takes photos of any new plant or bird that he comes across. Then he checks up on it using the Internet. When unable to identify a plant or bird, he also seeks the help of foresters.

Pema Lhendup was a hotelier in Zhemgang before bird watching and an interest of birds took over his life. As a hotelier he usually prepared meals for bird watchers. His curiosity eventually grew into a passion and he himself became a birder.

“These books and the internet are my university,” says Pema, who studied until class IX. He has also modified some of his books with additions of local names.

He said it is important to know about the environment. “I am still learning about them and it will never come to an end,” he said.

Nima Wangdi | Dunmang