Wildlife: A camera trap set by a team from the Ugyen Wanchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang captured images of a tiger roaming in their research preserve near Lamaigonpa Dzong for the first time.

A male adult tiger was caught on cameras in the area on different occasions.

A tiger biologist of UWICE, Tshering Tempa, said the tiger was spotted walking towards the Lamaigonpa Dzong thrice since November last year. The tiger was caught on camera on November 2 last year, and January 14 and 17 this year.

He said this evidence backs up the claim of Bhutan being a potential habitat for  tigers. “This is a great success story for our conservation policies and actions.”

He said the same tiger was caught on camera at Kikiphu above Tharpaling monastery in November last year.

Tshering Tempa said that this shows the tiger is able to successfully hunt and breed in high altitude mixed conifer and fir forests. “We have not captured any female and cub as of yet,” he said.

He also said camera trappings caught other endangered wildlife species like red panda, wild dog, musk deer, monal pheasant, common leopard, golden cat and the Himalayan black bear. “This shows that the research preserve is home to them.”

Many prey species such as wild pigs, sambar deer, barking deer, and serow were also captured by the camera traps.

The tiger biologist also said the tigers’ main prey are wild pig, sambar deer and barking deer, which is abundant in the locality.

He said the camera traps were set as a part of a long term wildlife monitoring effort in the UWICE research preserve, which started in May last year. “More than 50 remote camera traps are set in the 2,000 hectares research preserve. We monitor it every two months.”

The camera trapping exercise is carried out with financial support from the Bhutan Foundation and the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation.

The UWICE research preserve was established in 2014 for conducting forestry and wildlife research.

Nima Wangdi | Bumthang