Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park in collaboration with Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) will organise a 2-day takin festival in Tsharijathang, Gasa, in June this year.
The festival, which is a first of its kind, will showcase Bhutan’s rich natural heritage, raise awareness on conservation of biodiversity, create avenue and strive towards financial sustainability of the park. It will also help provide off-season eco-tourism and means of alternative income opportunities to park residents, specifically the upland communities.
The chief forest officer of the park, Phuntsho Thinley, said that Tsharijathang, which is officially about 4 days’ walk from Gasa, is the summer habitat of takins. More than 150 takins are found there in June.
He said that the festival is scheduled for June because not many tourists visit the country during the month. “This is a way to make tourists come throughout the year and to foster eco-tourism,” said Phuntsho Thinley.
The festival will be held on June 9 and 10. The locals will put up a variety of stalls for the visitors. The stalls will display cultural artifacts and textiles, dairy products, medicinal plants including cordyceps and incense, and educational materials on cordyceps, mushrooms and nature conservation. Documentary films on the takin and Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park will be screened during the festival.
Cultural programmes like khuru, dego, and yak and horse riding will be organized on the first day.
On the second day, visitors will be taken on a tour of the takin congregation ground at Tsharijathang and observe takin behaviours for the whole day. They will be able to take photographs of takins and the saltlick areas. They will also trek around Tsharijathang to see blue sheep and other mammals.
The festival will become an annual event. It is devoted to the takin because, besides being the national animal, the presence of healthy populations of this species in the country epitomizes Bhutan’s fervent support and commitment towards nature conservation, said Phuntsho Thinley.
Some 350 takins, spread across various areas in different seasons, are found in the Jigme Dorji National Park. Soe Thongphu above Dodena, Tsharijathang, Rimchhu, Tshachhuphug, Lunana, Ramena, and Tashithang are some of the areas where takins can be sighted.