Mitigating Threats To Bhutan’s Beloved National Animal - The Takin


Takins are strictly protected under Schedule I of the Forests and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan 1995.

(Source: Deng Jianxin)


By Choki Wangmo | Kuensel

Human-induced changes are threatening the habitats of Bhutan’s national animal - the takin (Budorcas taxicolor whitei).

According to the first national report on takin by the forest department, linear infrastructure such as the expansion of road and transmission lines as well as improper land-use planning were found to hinder wildlife movement and disturb prime habitats of the species,

The infrastructure developments, if left unchecked, could cause unforeseeable risks to their habitats.

Legend of the takin

There is an interesting myth behind the creation of the Takin, which contributed to its religious significance and adoption as Bhutan’s national animal.


Source: Youtube/Bong Travel o Explore


Legend has it that in the 15th century, when Lam Drukpa Kunley (also referred to as ‘The Divine Madman’), arrived in Bhutan from Tibet, he delivered religious teachings to the people, whereupon they requested him to conjure up a miracle.

Lam Drukpa Kunley agreed, on the condition that he would be fed a massive lunch – a whole cow and a whole goat, which the people dutifully brought.

The Tibetan saint devoured the flesh of both the animals and left out the bones. Thereafter, he fixed the head of the goat onto the body of the cow and with a snap of his fingers uttered a mantra.

The animal sprang to life instantly and started grazing in the meadows. Lam Drukpa Kunley then named it the ‘Dong Gyem Tsey’ (Takin).

Where are takins found?

The takin found in Bhutan is actually one out of four sub-species. It is a large bovid ungulate found along the warm broad-leaved forests throughout the alpine region (between the altitudinal range of 1,200m in warm broadleaved forests to 5,374m in northern Bhutan).

Bhutan’s takin migrates from alpine valleys to lower forests in autumn and return to the summer habitats in early spring.

The species has been reportedly seen in Xizang, China and Sikkim, as well as Arunachal Pradesh in India. Its population is estimated to be between 500-700 individuals.

Takins are found in steep forests extending to the timberline and mountain valleys in the Eastern Himalayas as well as the adjoining mountain ranges of Bhutan, India, Myanmar, and China.

Map: Research Gate/Tiger Sangay & Karl Vernes (Dec 2016)


The animal is mostly found in the Jigme Dorji National Park and Wangchuck Centennial National Park.  However, the takin can also be seen roaming in the forest divisions of Bhutan’s districts of Paro, Thimphu, and Wangdue.

The report also stated that the winter habitats of the takin were highly vulnerable to anthropogenic pressure due to its closer proximity to human settlements.

“Building roads closer to or within the takin habitats will not only alter the animal behaviour but will also fragment the habitats.”

Recommended solutions to mitigate negative impact of development on takins

To deter negative impact within their habitats, the study recommended that the government should focus on maintaining the existing farm roads rather than building new roads.

“If a new construction is required, it should be cost-effective and environmentally less damaging.”

The current method of ‘cut-fill’ construction involved high costs and is not environmentally friendly.

Experts documented the indirect impact of such developments on wildlife such as: physical barrier for movement and dispersal as well as the displacement and change in habits.

Takins generally prefer continuous gentle terrain and an undisturbed habitat for foraging, finding mates and for their long-term sustenance.

Therefore, low-altitude forested habitats outside protected areas should be incorporated into the takin management plan. These forests should also be protected as takin habitats, according to the report.

Threats to the existence of takins in Bhutan

As takins live in remote areas, far away from high-density human settlements, it increases poaching risk.

Moreover, they are also susceptible to snaring, illegal trapping and disturbance from feral dogs.

The population of takins is found to be decreasing. This is attributed to threats from deforestation, habitat fragmentation, hunting, zoonotic disease transmission, and competition for food from domestic livestock.

Steps have been taken to conserve the species. Bhutan's takin was declared the national animal of Bhutan in 1985 and is strictly protected under Schedule I of the Forests and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan 1995.

In addition, the takin has also been categorised as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List.


This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.



Related Posts

Sightings Of Red Pandas In Bhutan Have Decreased In Recent Years

Given the red colour of the animal, Bhutanese believe that red pandas were the reincarnation of monks and encountering...

May 04, 2018 01:10

Sightings Of White Bellied Herons Declining In Bhutan

The White Bellied Herons are secretive birds, often intolerant of close proximity to humans.

Dec 05, 2018 22:03

Snow Leopards – Ghosts of the Mountains

Called “ghosts of the mountains” by the Himalayan people because of their ability to mysteriously appear and disappear...

Jan 17, 2018 10:30

‘Heavenly Birds’ Which Do Not Forsake Their Own Kind, Bumdeling...

As of 21 December, 83 cranes have arrived in the in Bumdeling Valley.

Dec 24, 2018 15:23

Endangered One-Horned Rhinoceros Spotted At Royal Manas National...

The one-horned rhinoceros was captured multiple times in a camera trap set up for tracking tigers.

Dec 16, 2018 12:33

In Commemoration Of World Elephant Day, Bhutan Records 678...

There are 678 elephants in Bhutan, according to the second edition of the National Elephant Survey Report.

Aug 15, 2018 12:54



USD 25.3m Green Climate Fund To Address Climate Change Adaption In Bhutan

The project can help address climate change adaptation challenges facing Bhutan, particularly in the agriculture sector.

Jan 15, 2020 16:28

Bhutan’s Target To Become A 100% Organic Nation By 2020 Delayed – Pushed To 2035

Efforts to translate Bhutan’s organic vision into reality has met with various challenges thus far.

Jan 04, 2020 23:28


Bhutan’s Government Ramped Up Support For More To Drive Electric Vehicles, Help Reduce Harmful Emissions

The dealers and the manager have given the taxi drivers their guarantee on battery and the important parts of the EV.

Jan 16, 2020 23:28

Pangri Zampa Lhakhang - The College of Astrology

Locals visit the monastery every year to learn about their yearly predictions about their luck, money, health, career and many more....

Jan 15, 2020 09:46


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

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08


Economic Roadmap Needed To Steer Bhutan Towards Higher GDP Growth

The Lyonchhen said that the economic figures will improve in 2020 as 70 percent of the capital investments still lie unused.

Jan 17, 2020 23:38

Celebrating Bhutan’s entrepreneurs: Tashi Wangdi of iHub

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

Jan 12, 2020 23:38


Forging the Unbeaten Trail Towards Wangdue Nye

When you dedicate year 2020 to hike on unbeaten trails in Bhutan.

Jan 21, 2020 10:58

Make Your Own Personalised Stamps And Discover Bhutan’s Postal History At The Postal Museum

The Bhutan Postal Museum in Thimphu is also a major tourist attraction.

Jan 18, 2020 21:08


Relish Your Taste Buds With 8 Delectable Bhutanese Staple Food

One of the best places to try authentic Bhutanese cuisine is through a homestay, where you will get to sample what most locals eat at home.

Jan 19, 2020 21:08

Here’s What it is like inside Hotel River Valley, Punakha in Bhutan

River Valley Hotel offers professional and customer oriented services and thereby has become the leading hotel in the region ’. Experience...

Jan 05, 2020 10:48

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!