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Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) is located in the North Eastern part of Bhutan. The revision of Protected Area System in 1993, merged Kulong Chhu Wildlife Sanctuary and the Bumdeling conservation area and gazetted in 1994 to be called as Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary. It has an area of 1520.61 km2 . It encompasses three Geogs in three different Dzongkhag viz. Bumdeling in Trashi Yangtse, Shermuhung in Mongar and Khoma in Lhuntse. In the North it shares international boundary with China (Tibetan Province) and in the Northeast with India (Arunachal Pradesh). It forms an Eastern Himalayan Eco-region with wide range of ecosystems ranging from warm cool broadleaved forest to Alpine meadows. The vegetation types in Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary are Alpine scree slopes , Alpine pastures and meadows, Fir forest, Hemlock forest, Mixed and other conifer forests, Pine forests, Evergreen oak forest, Cool broad-leaved forest, Bamboo thickets, Alder forest, Warm broad-leaved forest and Temperate pastures and meadows.
The Sanctuary is the catchments of the mighty Drangme Chu, one of the biggest rivers of Bhutan and the Kholong Chu ,which forms the important habitat for the vulnerable Black-necked Crane in Bumdeling valley and also contributes to Kholong Chu hydro project.
Villages and agricultural land in BWS are mostly located along the lower reaches of the Kulong Chhu and the Khoma Chhu. The villages at higher altitude cultivate only on dry lands, while in the lower villages both dry and wetlands are used for farming. Two small groups of yak-herders live in the northern parts of the sanctuary. The communities have the tradition of producing Dapa (wooden bowl) and Desho (handmade paper), Thangka (Buddhist Painted scrolls)and bamboo belts for weaving bamboo mats are of the worth mentioning local values of the Sanctuary that contribute to local economy. The practice of Ridam and Ladam (restriction of entry into mountains and passes) by the communities residing in the Sanctuary, during certain months of the year to the core areas or the high altitude areas of the Sanctuary has helped to strengthen conservation, while also protecting the cultural heritage of the sanctuary.
1. The Sanctuary is one of the two major winter roosting habitat for the globally endangered Black Necked Crane.
2. The only endemic butterfly in Bhutan and in the world, i.e. the Ludlow's Bhutan Swallowtail is found in this Sanctuary.
3. It is the famous domestic pilgrimage site due to presence of significant cultural and religious sites like Singye Dzong, Risumgonpa, Pamaling, Dechenphodrang, Gonpa Karp, Lhakhang karp and Sangay Lodrou and a example of harmony between nature, culture and people. All these holy places are linked to Guru Rinpochoe, second Buddha who is the most revered figure in Buddhism.
Criterion (vii): Bumdeling valley offers a wonderful surrounding to the visitors. The valley tells its own history of formation some 10,000 years ago due to the debris deposition. Though the valley looks isolated, but the lush green surroundings is more appealing than all.
Criterion (ix): BWS is the important winter roosting habitat for Black Necked Cranes categorized as vulnerable by IUCN.The cranes migrate from Tibetan plateau in order to avoid the harsh weather on the plateau of Tibet. The cranes arrive in the month of November and live here till February before they fly back to their summer habitat. The improvement of roosting area and conservation effort put in BWS and communities have shown in increase in number of visiting Black Necked Cranes in the recent times. Thus, protection of their habitat is now considered the most important factor in protecting the species in the sanctuary.
A small area called Tobrang, close to border of China is the only place where Ludlow's Bhutan Swallowtail (Bhutanitis ludlowi) is found. The butterfly was thought to be extinct after its first discovery in 1933 and rediscovered in 2009. The butterfly is now the State Butterfly of Bhutan and endemic to BWS.
Criterion (x): The area hosts many medicinal plants as per our record and also home to numerous lakes, which are believed by the people to be abode of God and that constitutes important headwaters for the Kulong Chhu and Khoma Chhu. The important medicinal plants such as Gentiana urnula, Rheum nobile, Picrorhiza kurooa and Taxus baccata are found here.
The most important medicinal plant is Chinese Caterpillar (Cordyceps sinensis /Yartsa Guenboub- meaning Grass in summer and Caterpillar in winter) is a rare and important ingredient of traditional medicine in China. The caterpillar fungus has the reputation of promoting vitality and endurance, restoring energy and slowing the aging process, thus encouraging the communities for more illegal activities by selling across the border. BWS have big role to conserve and protect the Cordyceps to maintain the population and to prevent illegal trade along the borders.
Bumdeling is home to a great variety of wildlife including many endangered and threatened species, such as Royal Bengal Tiger(Panthera tigris tigris), Snow Leopard( Uncia uncia), Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), Himalayan Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster) , Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis), Chestnut-breasted Partridge(Arborophila mandellii), Wood Snipe(Gallinago nemoricola), Palla's Fish Eagle(Halieatus leucoryphus.
The totally protected plants such as Himalayan yew (Taxus baccata) and Blue poppy (Meconopsis grandis) and endemic species of plants like East Himalayan Pine (Pinus bhutanica), Rhododendron kesangii, Rhododendron bhutanense and Rhododendron flinckii are also found here.
A total of 100 species of mammals, 432 species birds, 650 species of plants, 46 species of orchids, 130 species of butterflies, 7 species of fishes, 29 species of dragonflies, 45 species of Herpeto-fauna and other important, endangered, threatened, and endemic species of flora and fauna are found in this sanctuary.
The Sanctuary is well managed in collaboration with local villages and the resources are sustainably managed without sacrificing optimal protection of its natural habitat and ecosystems for the endangered, threatened, endemic flora and fauna.
The management plans mentions the protection and preservation of cultural heritage sites of the sanctuary and is the first protected area of Bhutan to have Zonation mapping on ground. It is zoned as Core, Multiple use and Buffer zone based on the socio-economic and biological criteria to enhance ecological conservation and resource management by implementing different rules and regulation for different zones.
The Sanctuary may be similar to other natural sites, but the presence of the only endemic butterfly in Bhutan and in the world, i.e. the Ludlow's Bhutan Swallowtail is reason good enough to make the property stand out since the area is the only place in the world which harbours this very rare butterfly species.