Bhutan’s biological corridors - Alive and kicking! | WWF

Bhutan’s biological corridors - Alive and kicking!

Posted on
29 July 2017


This Global Tiger Day, the Department of Forests and Park Services, MoAF and WWF released Bhutan’s first high-resolution photograph and video of a wild tiger in an important wildlife corridor in Bhutan, connecting Wangchuck Centennial National Park and Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.

This is also the first time that a high-resolution image of the magnificent cat has been captured at a high altitude of 11,733 ft. in Bhutan. However, beyond the photograph, there is a bigger story on the efficacy of Bhutan’s biological corridors.

Biological Corridors were first established in Bhutan in 1999 and bestowed as a Gift to the Earth from the people of Bhutan. There were initially 12 corridors with a total coverage of 3,660 km 2 connecting all nine of Bhutan’s protected areas.  However, with the establishment of Wangchuck Centennial National Park in 2008, three corridors were subsumed.

Bhutan’s national tiger survey in 2014-2015 confirmed the presence of tigers in several areas of Bhutan for the first time – and found that tigers were using wildlife corridors to move between parks.
 Therefore, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister of Agriculture and Forests said this calls for scientific management of the biological corridors connecting the protected areas in order to ensure effective conservation of tigers and their meta-populations in Bhutan. Although biological corridors are part of the protected areas, there has not been comprehensive assessments and studies being conducted such as those in the protected areas. Hence, this information through high-resolution camera traps would provide Bhutan with a solid basis to start such studies and develop management plans.

The particular corridor 8 was selected for the mission because the area is under pressure from a wide range of human activities and form a critical link for tiger movement from Royal Manas National Park to other northern parks through Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.  With support from WWF Bhutan, park officials have also recorded many species of wild Asian cats in the region. Officials also said that the resulting images from the area that demonstrate large predators using the corridor could be used to discuss and help in the further alignment of the corridors.

Commissioned with support from WWF, it took photojournalist Emmanuel Rondeau and three Bhutanese foresters from DoFPS about 8 weeks and 8 camera traps for the mission that began in March this year – a mission to capture an image of the elusive tiger. More about this mission HERE (https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/missiontiger).

Meanwhile, Global Tiger Day is held annually on July 29 with the Bhutan event at the Royal Takin Preserve, Thimphu with the theme ‘Conserving prey base for tiger preservation’. The event includes the formal inaugural of the Preserve office including open viewing deck and a pamphlet inviting membership on Friends of Bhutan Takin to support the preserve. “Tiger is a top predator and ensuring their survival depends on a well-established prey-base. For the survival of the endangered cat, it requires the species it preys on to prosper in a shared habitat,” said officials of Bhutan’s nature conservation division.

Global Tiger Day was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit. The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.

About Tigers in Bhutan:
There are officially 103 estimated tiger individuals roaming freely within the wilderness of Bhutan. The estimated range of credible tiger number in the country is within 84 to 124. From 75 tigers estimated in 1998, the tiger population has increased to 103 in 2015. This is 37% increase in last 17 years, which is almost more than one tiger every year.

Bhutan is fortunate to be one of the remaining 13 tiger countries. With 72% of the country under forest cover and over 50% under protected area status, tigers can be found from the warm subtropical forests in the south to the cold alpine forests in the north; from 100 meters to 4200 meters above sea level, making them the highest altitude tigers in the world.