Bhutanese conservationist’s Phuntsho Thinley mission to save Endangered alpine musk deer in trekkers’ paradise

Email

A wildlife biologist from Bhutan has won a prestigious Whitley Award for his lifelong work to preserve the rare alpine musk deer.

Phuntsho Thinley works for the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), the first and only wildlife conservation organisation in Bhutan. Despite being a protected species under the Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan, the alpine musk deer is targeted by poachers for its musk pod, with an estimated 100 deer killed in Bhutan each year. Only found in male deer, a musk pod is worth more than gold on the international black market for its perceived pharmaceutical properties.

The Whitley Awards, often referred to as ‘Green Oscars’, are awarded annually to individuals from the Global South by UK-based conservation charity the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) and are each worth £40,000 in project funding. Phuntsho is one of six conservationists to be recognised this year for their achievements in nature conservation.

 Situated three days’ walk from the capital of Thimphu, Phuntsho’s project is located in the vast Lingzhi Park Range - a trekkers’ paradise with jaw-dropping scenery, lush forest cover, meadows and diverse fauna and flora. It is the only place in the world where the habitat of the Endangered Royal Bengal Tiger overlaps with that of the enigmatic snow leopard. About 700 people live in the area, mainly subsisting on yak raising and medicinal plant collection. The Alpine musk deer forms an important part of the food chain and its loss would have a catastrophic effect on the area’s ecological balance.

With just 16 park staff patrolling a massive 74,500 ha of park, there is an urgent need to scale up efforts and put boots on the ground. The £40,000 Whitley Award will allow Phuntsho and his team to increase anti-poaching patrols and monitoring, with a goal to reduce illegal incidents by 50% by training all park staff, as well as a quarter of residents living in the area. 

This approach is coupled with education activities to help local people understand and value the importance of musk deer, engaging them with conservation when their role as conservation partners has previously been underappreciated.

 Phuntsho said: “I am extremely humbled to have received this Award. From a young age, I have always felt the need to give back to nature. Bhutan has developed sound environmental policies which are globally acknowledged, and I intend to uphold this unique environmental stewardship and pass it on to future generations.”

WFN Founder Edward Whitley said: “Phuntsho is a great example of what we look for in a Whitley Award winner. Engaging people in conservation is central to his approach and his dedication to conservation is evident. We look forward to following him on his journey as he works to prevent local extinction of the alpine musk deer in Western Bhutan.” 

Phuntsho is among six conservationists to receive 2020 Whitley Awards to support their work to conserve some of the planet’s most endangered species and spectacular natural habitats. While normally presented to winners by charity Patron HRH The Princess Royal at an annual Ceremony in London, the 2020 Whitley Awards Ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst the winners will receive their funding now, they will be invited to attend a ceremony and related events in London later this year to celebrate their achievements, should circumstances allow. 

While the winners will receive their funding now, they will be invited to attend a ceremony and related events in London later this year to celebrate their achievements, should circumstances allow. Rebecca Pradhan was the first Bhutanese to win the Whitley Award in 2008.

 We would like to congratulate Phuntsho Thinley for Stepping up patrols to preserve the endangered alpine musk deer in Bhutan.

 

 

 

 

 



Related Posts

Australia supports Bhutan in its COVID-19 preparedness, response...

Extending support to Bhutan in its fight against COVID-19, the Australian Government has supplied medical equipment in...

Sep 22, 2020 09:39

Virtual Tsechu in Bhutan amid Pandemic.

Tsechu (Festival ) is one of the biggest religious celebrations of the Bhutanese year in every district in Bhutan....

Sep 21, 2020 12:38

Technology-based Conservation in Bhutan

Bhutan homes around 11,248 species making us one of the biodiverse countries in the world. With the digital age, how is...

Sep 16, 2020 19:23

FOOD SECURITY- Rice for three meals could face repercussion on...

“One of our primary objectives is to be self-reliant. When we talk about self-reliance it means that we should be able...

Sep 13, 2020 12:13

Bhutan 'travel bubbles' tourism plan from March 2021

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) 'travel bubble' proposal consists of 2 options that may be implemented from March...

Sep 11, 2020 16:42

7 Benefits of Cordyceps

Cordyceps have been widely used in traditional chinese medicine (TCM) and some branches of herbalism for centuries....

Sep 01, 2020 16:24

Latest

News

Australia supports Bhutan in its COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery

Extending support to Bhutan in its fight against COVID-19, the Australian Government has supplied medical equipment in response to the Royal...

Sep 22, 2020 09:39

Virtual Tsechu in Bhutan amid Pandemic.

Tsechu (Festival ) is one of the biggest religious celebrations of the Bhutanese year in every district in Bhutan. Tsechu has been held...

Sep 21, 2020 12:38

Features

The Heart Shaped Stone- Story to remember while you hike through Phobjikha Nature Trail.

Interesting Stories from the Trail

Sep 09, 2020 18:29

View from the Sky For Every Travellers Flying into Bhutan

Despite Boeing ranking Paro airport as 'one of the world's most difficult for takeoffs and landings, the views over the clear blue waters...

Aug 06, 2020 14:25

Sports

Football clubs in Bhutan gearing up for Bhutan Premier League (BPL) 2020

Bhutan Premier League (BPL), the top national football tournament in Bhutan is set to commence on August 1.

Jul 24, 2020 14:33

Karma – Female Archer From Bhutan Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympic Quota

Karma has been specialising in Olympics-style archery since 2009.

Nov 30, 2019 13:18

Business

Bhutan- The Kingdom of Peppers

Bhutan is a country with the highest per-capita consumption of chilli.

Sep 26, 2020 09:15

Are Local Vendors Earning More Money Than the Civil Servant?

A Farmer from Lango, Paro gave up farming to be vendor while office goers are switching into agriculture as the remedy to curb their...

Jul 27, 2020 19:15

Travel

The Significance of Jela Dzong

The journey towards the most popular Druk Path Trek starts with a short climb up to Jela Dzong. Jela Dzong is perched on top of the...

Sep 19, 2020 13:57

The Longest Urban Hiking Trail from PangriZampa to Lungtenphu, Thimphu

This trail is a less explored pocket of paradise for trekkers and wanderers who are in search of natures hospitality and solitude away from...

Aug 05, 2020 10:40

Lifestyle

Food on Wheels- First of its kind in Bhutan

The World's Largest Fast Food Restaurant Chains doesn't exist in Bhutan.

Mar 04, 2020 09:39

Amazing Stories from the Eastern Part of Bhutan

You can't say you have visited the eastern part of Bhutan unless you have experienced the following bizarre things.

Mar 02, 2020 19:02

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!