Migration: With six more takins radio collared at Tsarijathang in Jigme Dorji National Park last month, an in-depth study on the migration pattern of the national animal has begun.
Headed by Sangay Dorji, popularly known as Tiger Sangay, a researcher at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) and officials from Wildlife Conservation Division, one male and five female takins were radio collared.
The takins are found in the meadows of Tsarijathang at this time of the year, which is their summer grazing area.
Sangay Dorji, who is studying about Takin’s migration pattern, a thesis for his PhD, said the task of collaring these animals was not easy if there were no assistance from various organisations.
“Takin has been our national animal since 1985 and not much of a study has been done, except for a study on their diet selection,” he said. “I thought it would be better to start learning about them, their migration pattern and habitation by collaring them.”
The collar is a GPS accelerometer collar, which is programmed to get the takins’ geographic position every 15 minutes and acceleration of their activity every second.
“The data should be able to give information on where takins inhabit over time and space,” he said. “Ideally, we should be able to tell where they go for food and rest.”
Migration is a complex habitation strategy of the species that often travel in different habitats and altitude ranges, and other landscape features such as topography, terrain and rivers among others, Sangay Dorji said.
“Studying migration is important to understand takin’s use of habitat in summer and winter or their migration route,” he said. “By studying migration, we can also assess whether they have adequate food resources, cover or any other disturbances.”
Collaring them would also help track the takin’s landscape.
“During their migration season, they are constantly disturbed by road construction, vehicle disturbances, power line construction and increasing people who come to collect Cordyceps,” he said. “Through this study, we will be able to provide migration corridor and better habitation grounds for these animals.”
During their migration, takins come in contact with domestic and wild animals, which also expose them to diseases.
“To develop a good species conservation action plan, it is important to understand all these aspects,” he said.
So far, 15 takins have been radio collared for the study.
Similar to takins, elephants are also radio collared to learn about their migration pattern and their migration routes.
“Once we know their migration routes, we can check whether these routes fall within our settlement and will be able to save lives and properties of locals in the area,” Sangay Dorji said. “We can also provide a biological corridor for them to migrate without disturbances.”
Takin is believed to be a mystical animal created by the divine madman, Lam Drukpa Kuenley, by placing the head of a goat with the body of a cow.
About 180 takins are found in the Jigme Dorji National Park today.
Jigme Dorji National Park is the second largest national park in the country covering most of Gasa and northern parts of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Wangduephodrang.
UWICE, Wildlife Conservation Division, Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation, Bhutan Foundation and University of New England are supporting the study.