About 369 participants completed the fifth Bhutan International Marathon that was held in Punakha on March 3. In the full marathon (42kms) for male, a 22-year-old Japanese, Yoshiyuki Hara, secured the first position by completing the race in 2hours 27mins and 18 seconds. He also secured the first position for male’s half marathon last year. […]
About 369 participants completed the fifth Bhutan International Marathon that was held in Punakha on March 3.
In the full marathon (42kms) for male, a 22-year-old Japanese, Yoshiyuki Hara, secured the first position by completing the race in 2hours 27mins and 18 seconds. He also secured the first position for male’s half marathon last year.
Two soldiers, Duptho Wangchuk of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) and Kinley Gyeltshen of the Royal Body Guards (RBG), came second and third by completing the race in 2:47:07 and 2:54:14 respectively.
In the female’s full marathon category, Sarah Easton, 30, stood first by completing the race in 3:42:17. She is a professional athlete who runs for charity to raise funds for refugees of Myanmar. The race was her first at such altitude. The race started at 6,700ft.
Ursula Schulz and Pema Zam bagged the second and third position by completing the race in 4:11:50 and 4:43:23 respectively.
The race started from Tashithang in Gasa and ended at the Punakha Dzong parking, detouring from Changyul towards the cremation ground and following the trail that leads to the 300ft suspension bridge and the Samdingkha road towards Kuruthang.
In the half marathon, three RBA soldiers, Phurpa, Nima Dorji and Kinley Tenzin, were the winners. Phurpa completed the race in 1:18:46, where as Nima and Kinley took 1:18:54 and 1:19:11 respectivelty.
In the female half category, Jocelyn Bradley, who took 1:40:14, won the race followed by a teacher of Thimphu Primary School, Juliana Mamola. She took 1:44:14 seconds to complete the race.
Tika Monger came third by completing it in 1:57:04.
The half marathon started from the Sirigang in Kabisa.
The winners were awarded cash prizes ranging from Nu 3000 to Nu 20,000.
Of the 419 people participated in the race but some did not complete by the scheduled time, which was from 8am to 3pm.
There were 277 international and 142 national participants, of which 73 were above 50 years.
Bhutan has been nominated for the ‘World’s Sustainable Destinations Top 100 Awards,’ this year. Of 100 destinations selected, Bhutan has been listed among the top sustainable destinations in Earth category for the first time. The award function will be held in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday (March 7). Officials from the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) said, […]
Bhutan has been nominated for the ‘World’s Sustainable Destinations Top 100 Awards,’ this year. Of 100 destinations selected, Bhutan has been listed among the top sustainable destinations in Earth category for the first time.
The award function will be held in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday (March 7). Officials from the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) said, there will be audience prize in addition to the jury awards, where the audiences of the event will be asked to vote for the top hundred audience prize.
The finalists were categorised in five categories: Best of Cities, Communities and Culture, Best of Nature, Best of Seaside, Earth Award and Best of the Planet.
“We are really looking at organised way for trekking, respecting animal movements, and protecting biological corridors. We have designated camp sides and environmental respects and recognition that we really commit to,” stated Damcho Rinzin, the Media Spokesperson of TCB, adding that due to all these justifications, they felt Bhutan should be on the list of 100 sustainable destinations across the globe.
The 12 jury members from 12 different international agencies selected the countries that will qualify to be on the list of final sustainable destinations. The selected places were those fulfilling the hundred criteria and six different themes ranging from the management of the environment to respecting of the nature.
“The jury which represents from top twelve agencies are the champions of sustainability, so they will look into all these criteria and try to understand what Bhutan has done to be the champion,” shared Damcho Rinzin to BBS News.
He also said such awards are important for the country as foreigners will come to know about its commitments to conservation of nature. Bhutan has made to top hundred lists in the past as well.
The World’s Best Sustainable Destinations Award is an annual event and it is one of the prestigious opportunities to showcase green destinations to the world, focusing mainly on tourism.
The Green Destinations- an agency that recognises destinations around the world for championing sustainability in terms of nature and culture among others is the organiser of the award ceremony.
Hitting a milestone in the history of space science and technology in Bhutan, the country’s first cubesat BHUTAN-1 is ready for delivery to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for launch. The news was shared during a press conference via video conferencing for cubesat Flight Model (FM) delivery organised by the Kyushu Institute of Technology […]
Hitting a milestone in the history of space science and technology in Bhutan, the country’s first cubesat BHUTAN-1 is ready for delivery to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for launch.
The news was shared during a press conference via video conferencing for cubesat Flight Model (FM) delivery organised by the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), Japan yesterday.
The cubesat, weighing less than 1.5kgs will be delivered to JAXA sometime in April.
Bhutan, along with Malaysia and the Philippines, is currently participating in the second joint global multi-nations BIRDS Project called BIRDS-2, initiated by Kyutech, represented by four engineers from the telecom and space divisionof the information and communications ministry (MoIC).
MoIC secretary Dasho Karma W Penjor said, this marks Bhutan’s first step towards development of Bhutan’s Space Science and Technology Programme, a vision of His Majesty The King.
“The project began in late 2016 as a manifestation of His Majesty The King’s vision for Bhutan’s foray into space science and technology and for Bhutan to make a preliminary entry along with members of the international communityinto space.”
He said that space science and technology has the potential to leapfrog socio-economic development and especially so for a country like Bhutan with a dispersed population and a harsh and physically challenging geographic environment.
These applications and uses of space science and technology will also facilitate Bhutan, as it will for other developing countries to speed up and facilitate the government’s efforts towards achieving the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, he said.
Dasho KarmaW Penjor said it is a special project since it has enabled Bhutan to develop the country’s first satellite called BHUTAN-1 and also train the first space engineers.
Initial estimates showed that the whole process from training the engineers to launching the nanosat and building a ground station in the country would cost around USD 280,000.
Under the BIRDS-2 Project that began in November 2016, the engineers along with participants from the
Philippines and Malaysia will build three 1U (10*10*10 cm) CubeSat.
With the finalisation of the missions by December 2016, the team began designing and testing the design by March last year. After verifying the functions of each sub-system, the team built the first Engineering Model (EM-1) of the satellite in June. By October, the EM-2 was completed and works on developing the Flight Module (FM) began.
Annually, the national broadcaster spends around Nu 9.5 million (M) to use the INSAT communication facilities to broadcast BBS TV throughout the country. Bhutan Telecom invests around Nu 3M to provide telecommunication services and the Department of Hydro-Met Services pays around Nu 1.2M every year for the GLOF early warning systems.
Once launched, the satellite will operate in a low altitude of about 500km to 1,500km. With the help of two high-end cameras fitted on the satellite, it will take high quality photographs of the country, help examine the conditions of the glaciers, lakes, forest covers and provide basic communication services.
Bhutan became a member of the International Telecommunication Union in 1988.
To mark the 38th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King, Their Majesties and His Royal Highness The Gyalsey visited Paro Taktsang yesterday morning to offer prayers. This is His Royal Highness The Gyalsey’s first visit to Taktsang. Considered one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country, the temple complex surrounding the scared […]
To mark the 38th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King, Their Majesties and His Royal Highness The Gyalsey visited Paro Taktsang yesterday morning to offer prayers. This is His Royal Highness The Gyalsey’s first visit to Taktsang.
Considered one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country, the temple complex surrounding the scared cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated in the 8th century, has been built by various Buddhist masters over the centuries.
Later in the evening, His Majesty celebrated the special day at the Royal Bhutan Army’s Commando Wing in ParoShabha with the soldiers and officers, who are the part of Bhutan’s first ever contingent for the United Nations peace keeping operations. Bhutan’s contingent is at a “Rapid Deployment Level” which means the unit is now ready to be deployed to a mission area within 60 days of deployment notice from the UN.
Bhutan has been participating in UN peacekeeping operations since 2014, and over 82 peacekeepers have successfully served at various UN missions around the world. Retired Armed Forces personnel, and DeSuups of Paro also joined in the intimate celebration.
A team of foresters and Bhutanese biologists radio-collared a tiger for the first time, a major milestone in the history of tiger conservation. The three-year-old female tiger weighing 110kgs was caught and collared on February 9 at the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP). National Tiger Centre’s (NTC) programme director, Tempa Tshering (PhD), said, “We were […]
A team of foresters and Bhutanese biologists radio-collared a tiger for the first time, a major milestone in the history of tiger conservation.
The three-year-old female tiger weighing 110kgs was caught and collared on February 9 at the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP).
National Tiger Centre’s (NTC) programme director, Tempa Tshering (PhD), said, “We were so overwhelmed that we even forgot to take pictures of the tiger. To mark this auspicious milestone in tiger conversation in the country, she was named Tendrel Zangmo.”
Tendrel Zangmo (meaning auspicious omen) sends her location every hour through the Global Positioning System (GPS) collar.
The tiger collaring team has been in the park’s forests looking for tiger signs and monitoring their movements for almost a month.
“We imported trapping kits from the US and used humane ways of snaring the tiger,” said Tshering Tempa. “We tested them to confirm that the traps would not injure the cat. We had conducted several drills to prepare ourselves.”
The whole collaring process lasted about 45 minutes and she was released without any injuries.
“We were a little nervous, but we are happy that everything went according to our plan,” Tshering Tempa said.
The information she provides would be crucial to understanding tiger movement pattern, identifying key corridors, and mitigating human-tiger conflicts.
Tshering Tempa said that Bhutan is unique in that its tiger habitat is contiguous across the whole country and extends from lowland subtropical jungles all the way to subalpine forests.
The highest altitude for tiger in the world was recorded in Wangchuck Centennial National Park at 4,400 metres above sea level.
Tshering Tempa said that not much is known about the tigers in mountains.
“With this exercise, we will be pioneers in filling this critical information gap in tiger science,” he said. “What is more satisfying is that it is a Bhutanese team that carried out the whole operation.”
The team consisted of officials from NTC, foresters from RMNP, Nature Conservation Division (NCD), and Sarpang forest division.
Foresters call it a beginning of a new era of tiger conservation and monitoring in Bhutan.
The tiger is an apex predator and an umbrella species, which means ensuring their survival allows many species to live and flourish in its large shared habitat. However, threats to these cats still exist in the form of killing for profit or in retaliation, destruction of habitat for industries or subsistence.
Tshering Tempa said a thriving illicit global trade has drastically reduced tiger populations across its range. Today, fewer than 3,800 tigers exist in the wild, spread across 13 countries in Asia and the Russian Far East.
Bhutan Foundation funded the collaring project as part of a long-term project to conserve Bhutan’s mountain tigers.
The first disable friendly highway restroom opened today at Tamchoe, Paro. The toilet built with a traditional architecture has user friendly basins for those on wheelchairs with a hand rail, a ramp and wider door. The toilets also have sensor taps. Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) began the construction work in mid-June last year. A TCB official […]
The first disable friendly highway restroom opened today at Tamchoe, Paro.
The toilet built with a traditional architecture has user friendly basins for those on wheelchairs with a hand rail, a ramp and wider door. The toilets also have sensor taps.
Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) began the construction work in mid-June last year.
A TCB official said that Tamchoe was one of the first areas visited by tourists while travelling from Paro.
She added that the spot can also benefit travelers taking long journeys. “If there is a need for toilet along the highway anywhere in the country, we would like to collaborate with dzongkhag administration to construct restroom facilities.”
The toilet was handed to Bhutan Toilet Organisation (BTO) on December 6 for management.
Executive director with BTO, Passang Tshering said that although toilets are built with enough facilities, due to lack of proper management, many toilets are in ruins.
He added that BTO would be responsible for the maintenance and security of the toilet at Tamchoe. “This toilet should be a model to other toilets in terms of infrastructure and management. This is a model to be followed.”
The toilet will be available for travelers with a minimum usage charge. BTO will manage healthy sanitation by making soaps and toilet papers available.
Passang Tshering also expressed the need for a cafeteria for the sustenance and better management of the toilet. “It is not convenient for the person taking care of the toilet. He has to come from a far place and there are cases of vandalism.”
The plans for a cafeteria at the area is still under discussion. If approved, the official from TCB said that TCB would support the construction.
This will be the first toilet to be managed by BTO.
Passang Tshering, said that toilets in any organisation should be encouraged to be built disabled friendly. “Bhutan should be a disabled friendly country.”
The toilet was built at a cost of Nu 2.7 million.
Each household is preparing 100 pieces of Hoentey for the National Day celebrations For the past three days, Tshering Gyem and her two girls had one profound duty to perform: make the most delicious Hoentey for their new year celebrations, Lomba, which coincides with the National Day tomorrow. People from Haa and Paro will celebrate […]
Each household is preparing 100 pieces of Hoentey for the National Day celebrations
For the past three days, Tshering Gyem and her two girls had one profound duty to perform: make the most delicious Hoentey for their new year celebrations, Lomba, which coincides with the National Day tomorrow.
People from Haa and Paro will celebrate their New Year, Lomba, on December 17. But for those in Haa this year the occasion assumes extraordinary significance and charm.
His Majesty The King and members of the Royal Family will celebrate the National Day at the newly constructed Lhakhang Karpo in Haa. It marks the day their leaders, along with those from other regions of unified Bhutan, committed unconditional allegiance to the Wangchuck Dynasty at the Pungthang Dewachenpoi Phodrang dzong.
Lomba for the people of Haa is no less important.
Hoentey is a sweet buckwheat or refined flour dumpling stuffed with a mixture of turnip leaves, amaranth seeds (zimtse), cottage cheese, butter that is seasoned with chili powder, onion and ginger. It is their New Year delicacy during Lomba.
The three kneaded more than 30 kilogrammes of refined flour, buckwheat, and steamed 1,000 pieces of Hoentey.
One of them rolls the dough into an evenly spread ciricle while the other two stuff the mixture, seal the dumpling and carefully place them in a huge steaming container. The vegetable and spices are fried in a pool of oil and a lavish touch of salt to enhance taste.
As the day nears dusk, the three are almost done. From the last few pots, Tshering Gyem checks the dumplings to see if they are cooked enough, takes them out and packs them in clean casseroles. Her husband, Sonam Tshering takes over. He runs around distributing the dumplings to their neighbours and civil servant friends, who are not from Haa and do not prepare the dumplings.
All visitors to their place are served a plateful of hot steaming or fried Hoenteys.
Seventy-one year old, Phub Tshering from Dumchoe misses the taste dumplings prepared during his days. “Nothing could be better than those dumplings of our time,” he said.
He said Hoentey today has changed in taste as most of the naturally grown or those collected from the wild ingredients are replaced with imported ones.
“Only few use sweet buckwheat (Gay rey) and they mostly used refined oil not butter,” he said. “One reason is because people’s health restrict certain foods and avoid butter.”
Those days, he said, more than eating Hoentey, it was the process of making it that was exciting.
“We collect butter, cheese and other dairy products from the highlands before to make Hoentey; we had many yaks then,” he said.
The women would dry garlic, collect wild fruits that have seeds like pumpkin, which are crushed to garnish the stuffing and grind flour from locally grown sweet buckwheat.
“We collect bamboo products from the south, mainly Samtse, exchange them with rice, chillies, and earthen pots in Punakha,” Phub Tshering said. “There was no modern steaming pots, so we used to boil the Hoentey in those earthern pots. In case we slip, fall and break the earthen pots, we have to return all the way to Punakha to fetch the pots,” he chuckles.
Jampel Dorji, 61, from Takchu Goenpa recalls looking forward to this delicacy as a child. “The dumplings are made once in a year, so they appear to taste delicious,” he said.
Today, it is made in plenty round the year.
Hoenteys are to the people of Haa what Puta is to Bumthangpas, Jomja to those from Paro, and Mengay to those from Sha, he said.
The main ingredients of these delicacies are similar: butter, amaranth seeds chilli, cheese, and salt.
“Because we don’t grow paddy we use flour, likewise the Bumthangpas use flour, and Sha grow paddy so they use rice,” he said.
Like all households, Tshering Gyem’s family will deposit their 100 pieces of Hoentey to the dzongkhag administration to be served on the National Day. Satisfied with how they have turned out, she hands over the utensils to the girls for cleaning. The woman of the house has fulfilled one of the main duties of the year.
Tshering Palden and Yeshey Dema | Haa
It is a special moment for people in Wangtsa village in Haa. The whole community gathered in the village Lhakhang by 9am to witness the local festival called Wangtsa Goencham. A prominent village resident, Wangcha Sangey, says: “This is one of the best ways of keeping the community united.” There are three sacred masked dances […]
It is a special moment for people in Wangtsa village in Haa. The whole community gathered in the village Lhakhang by 9am to witness the local festival called Wangtsa Goencham.
A prominent village resident, Wangcha Sangey, says: “This is one of the best ways of keeping the community united.”
There are three sacred masked dances that have to be performed by five families. The 75-year-old Penjor is one of them.
He started performing masked dance during since he was 15 and kept family tradition for half a century. “Now I am too old. My grandson has taken the responsibility of performing masked dance,” he says.
Penjor’s grandson, Yonten Jamtsho, is an RTC graduate. Wearing the Zhana (black hat dance) costume, he is preparing his entry to the courtyard of the lhakhang. “I started performing the dance since I was in class X,” he says. Most dancers in the village are youth like him. The oldest, who guides them, is a 40-year-old. “Since I have been doing it for the last 10 year, I don’t need practice.”
Wangtsa Goencham is a part of Lomba celebration in the village. Village people who are civil servants in other dzongkhags makes it more special by contributing funds to organise a tokha for the whole village. Free lottery tickets are distributed among the people at the festival.
Significance of the tradition dates back to the time of 9th Je Khenpo shakya Rinchen. The 25th Je Khenpo Sherub Gyeltshen (1772-1848), is thought to have built a small temple in the village and the structure was later enhanced by 36th Je Khenpo Yonten Pelzang (1869–1873).
In 2011, earthquake destroyed the lhakhang and rebuilding project began in 2013.
Phub Doley, a villager, said that all the structure was totally damaged everything had to be dismantled. New walls were raised. Miraculously, though, from the new mud wall, a mural of Je Khenpo Sherab Gyeltshen emerged naturally.
“The wall that was brought down has mural of Guru Tshengye,” said Phub Doley.
The mural looks ancient and pixelated, but the picture of Je Sherub Gyeltshen is clear enough. Certainly, it doesn’t look like a work of a human hand. A new thangka depicting the same mural picture covers the mural today.
Tshering Dorji | Haa
Rufous-necked hornbill (aceros nipalensis) can tolerate or survive certain degree of human disturbances provided there are enough resources available such as potential nesting and food trees in the habitat, according to a study. Senior ranger and head of nature conservation section with the Tsirang forest division, Kinley’s study on ‘Nesting Habits and Breeding Season of […]
Rufous-necked hornbill (aceros nipalensis) can tolerate or survive certain degree of human disturbances provided there are enough resources available such as potential nesting and food trees in the habitat, according to a study.
Senior ranger and head of nature conservation section with the Tsirang forest division, Kinley’s study on ‘Nesting Habits and Breeding Season of Rufous-necked hornbill: A case from Tsirang Dzongkhag,’ was presented at the ecological symposium last week.
The Rufous-necked hornbill is classified as vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Kinley said that four of the five nests in his study were sighted within the secondary forests (rainforest that has been disturbed in some way, naturally or unnaturally.) “Only one nest was found in primary forest. Two of the five nests were sighted in private lands and two in disturbed forest.”
He said that the availability of nesting and food trees determines the choice of habitat.
The study was conducted to document the breeding season, the threats associated with its nesting, to study nesting and breeding success, the nesting characteristics and feeding habits during the breeding season of the rufous-necked hornbill.
There are 54 species of hornbills in the world with 31 species found in Asia. It is reported that Bhutan has four species – oriental pied-hornbill, great hornbill, wreathed hornbill, and the rufous-necked hornbill. They are found between 150 to 2,600 metres in Bhutan, mostly in the southern parts of the country. Of the four species, rufous-necked hornbill is found at the highest elevation at around 2,400 metres.
Kinley said that rufous-necked hornbills face threats from extraction of timber. “Extraction of rural timber is mainly focused on large girth size and tall trees which is also preferred by the hornbills. Most of the favored timber species also coincide with the rufous-necked hornbill’s feeding and nesting tree species.”
He said that looping of branches and collection of seed and fruits by nursery growers also pose a threat to the bird.
Other threats include clearing of forest for power transmission towers, road constructions, and natural threats such as competition for food and nest cavities, dying of nest trees, serpent eagle preying on them, healing of the tree trunk, and rotting and sinking of the nest cavity.
He recommended the retention of potential hornbill nesting and food trees from marking, carrying out intensive field investigation before issuing forestry clearances, incorporating hornbill conservation activities in the Community Forest (CF) management plan as most of the hornbills were sighted in CF areas, and initiating environmental education outreach programmes. “Local communities should be involved in monitoring and protection of food tree species, nest and roost sites. We have to also carry out nest management works.”
He said that at an early stage of nesting period, the female inspects, cleans and knocks on the nest cavity. “In the middle stage of the nesting period, the male feeds the female hornbill two to three times a day following the same route direction.”
If the male hornbill comes from the other direction, he said the female would not take the food out of jealousy. “Rufous-necked hornbills are monogamous birds and they stay with only one life partner.”
Kinley said that at the later stage of nesting period, the male was observed feeding the female hornbill and the chicks three to five times a day.
He said that the nesting season starts from March 21 to July 19 with the mean breeding cycle of 120 days (115 to 125 days.) “From mid-July, I observed the chicks fledging out of the nest cavity which is quite early compared to India and Thailand.”
The limitations of the study, he said was that it is restricted to only one dzongkhag, and the less nest samples due to difficulty in locating the nest sites.
A majority of Phobjikha residents support conservation of black-necked cranes. According to a study on conservation of black-necked cranes and its perceived tradeoffs in Phobjikha Valley, 75 percent of the 222 respondents in Phobjikha agreed conservation of the cranes while 27 percent felt that interference due to conservation was not severe at all. A graduate […]
A majority of Phobjikha residents support conservation of black-necked cranes.
According to a study on conservation of black-necked cranes and its perceived tradeoffs in Phobjikha Valley, 75 percent of the 222 respondents in Phobjikha agreed conservation of the cranes while 27 percent felt that interference due to conservation was not severe at all.
A graduate from the College of Natural Resources, Jigme Wangchuk shared his findings at the fourth annual research symposium organised by Bhutan Ecological Society on December 2.
The study was conducted to find out how conservation approaches impacted the community of Phobjikha valley and how the community supports the conservation efforts.
Black-necked crane is the only alpine crane species and is classified as vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are about 11,000 cranes around the world according to World Wildlife Fund.
Jigme Wangchuk said conservation efforts did not have much impact on people and that people had access to basic developmental amenities such as access to farm roads, schools, and basic health unit. “There was no restriction on farming practices due to conservation efforts. People are free to use agro chemicals and any kind of techniques for farming.”
However, only seven percent agreed to chemical free farming while 41 percent disagreed.
Jigme Wangchuk said this might be because the main source of income for 94 percent of the respondents is potato farming. “It’s the main source of income for them and they cannot compromise their income in the name of conservation,” he said. “People were willing to go for agro-chemical free farming if they are incentivised for the forgone income opportunities.”
The chemicals are mainly used to kill the potato plants for easier harvesting.
The study also found that 12 percent felt access to electricity was severe as they faced irregularities in power supply due to underground electric circuit fitting. “About 13 percent of respondents felt restriction on their mobility,” Jigme Wangchuk said.
He said people perceived that waste generation has increased by 50 percent and the use of mineral fertiliser by 64 percent, which could threaten the conservation of the cranes. “Despite monthly waste management activities, they felt there is deterioration of waste management activities.”