Neten Dorji

Trashigang– To commemorate the birth of Her Royal Highness the Gyalsem, four  takins, the national animal of Bhutan, (Budorcas taxicolor whitei) were freed to the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Trashigang on Saturday, September 16.

Sanctuary officials named the four takins, two male and two female – Tenzin Lhendup, Sangay, Tenzin Drukda, and Choden. The takins are between two and five years old. They were brought from the Motithang Takin Preserve and kept in a six-acre forest for over 10 months in Kektong  brangsa to acclimatize to their new habitat, according to sanctuary officials.

Senior Forest Officer of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, Kesang Dorjee said the takins were  translocated 10 months ago at Kektong Brangsa to get used to the  new habitat.

He said they were introduced in SWS to establish a distinct population in the eastern part of the country.

“In case of unfortunate natural calamities like lumpy skin disease which could wipe out the takin population in western Bhutan, we could reintroduce the takin’s from Sakteng.”

Two takins were radio-collared to study their movements. Periodic data will be collected  on their movement to keep an eye on their health. They are in good health currently, according to officials.

Meanwhile, six takins  were introduced to the Sakteng sanctuary since 2016. While two were confirmed dead, the other four could not be traced. Officials said that all the takins were translocated directly to the sanctuary in the past.

“It was unsuccessful in the past since all takins died because of transportation shock or for not being able to adapt to the new habitat,” he said. “We learned lessons and released them after they were adapted to the new habitat.”

The translocation was supported by Bhutan for Life, WWF, BTFEC and the government.

Takin is the national animal of Bhutan due to its association with Bhutanese religious history and mythology. Legend has it that in the 15th century, a Tibetan saint, Lam Drukpa Kunley, well-known as “Divine Madam” created this unique animal. It resembles a quaint blend between a cow and a goat.

Takins are found from forested valleys to rocky, grass-covered alpine zones, at altitudes between 1,000 and 4,500 m (3,300 and 14,800 ft) above sea level. The takin is found in four countries – India, China, Myanmar, and Bhutan, while in Bhutan takin is found in western part  of the country.

The Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary has a similar elevation and environment to the animal’s habitats in the west according to Park officials. All four takins were released in Kektong Brangsa, Radhi gewog.

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is a 650 km square national park in eastern Bhutan, bordering the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Famed among environmentalists as the ‘Paradise of Rhododendrons’ the park covers Merak, Sakteng, Phongmey, Radhi, and Samdrupjongkhar in the south.