Bhutan is a peaceful and beautiful country nestled amidst the Himalayas of South Asia. The country is famous for its pristine natural environment. Over 42% of the kingdom of Bhutan is covered by protected areas. Most parts of the country's border with India and China are also part of these protected areas.
10. Wangchuck Centennial National Park
The Wangchuck Centennial Park is Bhutan’s largest national park and encompasses an area of 4,914 square km. Tibet lies to the north of the park while the tributaries of the Wong Chhu border it in the west. The Wangchuck Centennial Park was established on December 12, 2008, in the honor of the Wangchuck dynasty of the country. Several middle-Himalayan ecoregions ranging from blue pine forests at lower altitudes to alpine meadows at higher altitudes are found here. More than 200 species of vascular plants, 23 mammalian species, and 100 species of birds are reported in the national park. Notable species of the park are the Bengal tiger, snow leopard, black bear, takin, and wolf.
9. Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve
The Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve is located in the Haa District of Bhutan. The 609.51 square km protected area covers most of the district’s territory. A biological corridor connects the nature reserve to the Jigme Dorji National Park. The flora and fauna of the Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve vary with altitude and no human population is present within the boundaries of the reserve.
8. Phrumsengla National Park
The Phrumsengla National Park covers an area of 905 square km in central Bhutan. The national park’s territory spreads across four districts of the country. The national park is well-known for its scenic landscape and spectacular views. The elevation of the park ranges between 700 and 4,400 meters. It is a great bird-watching destination. Six species of threatened birds including the beautiful nuthatch, satyr tragopan, rufous-necked hornbill, rufous-throated wren-babbler, and others live here. The flora of the park varies greatly with altitude ranging from sub-tropical to alpine flora.
7. Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary
Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary that is located in the Trashigang District of Bhutan. The wildlife sanctuary is part of the Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests ecoregion. Several endemic species like the black-rumped magpie and the eastern blue pine are provided a safe haven in the sanctuary. Interestingly, the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary was established with the aim of protecting a cryptid creature called the migoi whose existence has not been scientifically proven. However, the local population strongly believes in the existence of this yeti-like creature.
6. Royal Manas National Park
The Royal Manas National Park is a picturesque national park that occupies an area of 1,057 square km in the Sarpang, Zhemgang, and Pemagatshel Districts of Bhutan. The national park features a wide range of habitats from permanent ice fields at the mountain peaks to tropical forests at the foothills of the mountains. About 5,000 people live in remote villages in the park in perfect harmony with nature. The Royal Manas National Park hosts notable fauna like the Bengal tiger, elephant, gaur, golden langur, wild water buffalo, rhinoceros, and other species. Hundreds of species of birds including four species of hornbills are found in the national park. Three species of the rare migratory fish called mahseer are found in the River Manas that flows by the park.
5. Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary
The Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary is Bhutan’s second smallest national park. It occupies an area of 268.93 square km including parts of Dagana District and the Sarpang District of the country. The elevation of the sanctuary ranges between 660 feet and 5,200 feet. The Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary hosts a significant population of chital or spotted deer and natural sal. Tigers, elephants, and gaur are the other charismatic species living here. Three species of mahseer and the rare Ganges River dolphin also inhabit the wildlife sanctuary.
4. Jomotsangkha Wildlife Sanctuary
The Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary is Bhutan’s smallest protected area. It encompasses an area of 334.73 square km in the country’s Samdrup Jongkhar District. The elevation of the sanctuary ranges between 1,300 feet and 7,200 feet. Despite its small area, the Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary is a significant habitat for gaur, hispid hare, pygmy hog, elephants, and other animals.
3. Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park
The Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park encompasses an area of 1,730 square kilometers and occupies most of the Trongsa District and parts of four other districts of Bhutan. The park is close to several other wilderness areas of the country, providing wildlife corridors for the migration of animals. The national park features several different types of biomes ranging from alpine meadows at the highest altitudes to sub-tropical forests at the foothills of the mountains. The north-central region has several tall peaks of up to 16,000 feet in elevation. The notable mammalian species found here are the clouded leopard, dhole, golden cat, gaur, tiger, black giant squirrel, jungle cat, etc. The park is also famous for its beautiful collection of avifauna. The mountains, rivers, streams, dense forests, waterfalls, and rich biodiversity attract a large number of tourists to this quaint mountainous country in South Asia.
2. Jigme Dorji National Park
The Jigme Dorji National Park, the second largest national park in Bhutan, is named after Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the Third Druk Gyalpo of the country. The 4,316 square km national park was established in 1974. It spans three climate zones of the country ranging from 1,400 m to 7,000 m. The park houses 37 mammalian species including a number of threatened species like the snow leopard, takin, Bengal tiger, black musk deer, red panda, Himalayan black bear, and others. The national park is also famous for housing the Indian leopard, sambar, marmot, pika, goral, sambar and other beautiful creatures of nature. The Jigme Dorji National Park is the country’s only protected area where the takin, blue poppy, raven, and cypress tree which are the national animal, flower, bird, and tree of the country exist together. The national park also houses the Mount Jomolhari and Mount Jitchu Drake which are held sacred by the locals of the country.
1. Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary
The Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary occupies an area of 1,520.61 square km in northeastern Bhutan. The altitude of the sanctuary area ranges from 4,900 feet to 20,000 feet. The sanctuary was established in 1998 and hosts diverse flora and fauna. The picturesque sanctuary also features glacial lakes nestled amidst the tall mountains. Several cultural and religious sites are also present here. The Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary also supports a significant population of rare birds like the black-necked cranes, grey-crowned prinias, and wood snipes. It is thus identified as an Important Bird Area.
What is the Largest National Park in Bhutan?
The Wangchuck Centennial Park is Bhutan’s largest national park and encompasses an area of 4,914 square km. Tibet lies to the north of the park while the tributaries of the Wong Chhu border it in the west. The Wangchuck Centennial Park was established on December 12, 2008, in the honor of the Wangchuck dynasty of the country. Several middle-Himalayan ecoregions ranging from blue pine forests at lower altitudes to alpine meadows at higher altitudes are found here.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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