Conservation and happiness

Print edition : July 30, 2021

Mincha Wangdi, who has over 30 years of experience in ecological issues, encourages wildlife watching and particularly bird-watching in Bhutan.

Mincha Wangdi started off as an educationist on environmental concepts with qualifications acquired from the University of Leeds and a master’s in science from South Bank University, London, United Kingdom. As a specialist, he worked with the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature, Bhutan, and the World Wildlife Fund, Bhutan. With over 30 years of experience in the natural history of Bhutan, he is currently the owner and CEO of Bhutan Mindful Travels, which provides focussed birding and cultural tours within the country.

Wangdi aptly explains that Bhutan’s biodiversity plays host to more than 200 mammals, 770 birds and 5,400 plants, some of which are endemic to the Eastern Himalaya. The globally threatened mammals are the snow leopard, the tiger, the blue sheep, the musk deer, the takin, the red panda and the golden langur that survive in dense jungles.

Universally threatened bird species such as the rufous-necked hornbill, the black-necked crane, the Pallas’ fish eagle and critically threatened species such as the white-bellied heron also flourish in the forests of Bhutan. Though it is a small country, Bhutan is privileged to have vast altitude variations which provide niche habitats for its biodiversity to proliferate in a range of ecosystems.

Nature conservation in Bhutan has been successful because of sound policies by the visionary leadership of its kings and the country’s deep-rooted Buddhist philosophy of tolerance and compassion towards mother nature. In addition, Bhutan’s revolutionary approach to development recognises the interconnectedness of environmental and cultural integrity with socio-economic development.

Environmental conservation is one of the four pillars of gross national happiness (GNH) in Bhutan. Environmental stewardship and ownership amongst the Bhutanese are very strong. This explains why it has pristine forests, clean air, clear rivers, rich nature nuances and happy people, indicating a perfectly harmonious coexistence. Bhutan is home to some of the most ancient species of vegetation on earth that has been preserved from historical times.

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