Bhutan observed World Tiger Day at the Royal Takin Preserve in Motithang, Thimphu on Saturday with the theme ‘Conserving prey base for tiger preservation’.

There are about 103 tigers in Bhutan today. From 75 tigers estimated in 1998, tiger population increased to 103 in 2015, according to the press release from Department of Forests and Parks Services (DoFPS), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoAF) and World Wildlife Fund Bhutan.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo said that protecting top predator like the tiger keep forests intact by keeping populations of prey species in check, maintaining balance in the ecosystem. “Balanced ecosystems are not only important for wildlife, but also for people.”

In 2016, Bhutan led the establishment of the Regional Centre for Tiger and Cats Conservation Centre in Gelephu.

Forestry Officer with Nature Conservation Division’s (NCD), Tandin, said that there is a need not only to ensure long-term survival of the tigers, but also to secure their prey base.

The event saw the inauguration of Friends of the Bhutan Takin initiative, a non-profit initiative to support and create awareness on Bhutan’s takin, Budorcas taxicolor whitei. Viewing deck and the Information Centre Building were also inaugurated at the  preserve.

Senior Forest Ranger at the 11-acre preserve, Chimmi Dorji, said that the Royal Takin Preserve has 14 takins, 13 sambar deers, a serow, a goral, and a barking deer.

He added that besides showcasing the national animal to a large number of foreign visitors every day, preserve serves as a source population for translocation of takins to its earlier range like Merak and Sakteng.

In Asia, tigers are found today in only 11 countries.

“Tiger population in the wild declined from more than 100,000 at the dawn of the century to less than 3,900 individuals today,” said the forestry officer.

Rinchen Zangmo