Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan – Takin Preserve
When you are in Thimphu, Bhutan, here is one of the nicest places to visit, and one of the things to do there. It is the Takin Preserve at the Jigme Dorji National Park to see the rare Takin – Bhutan’s National Animal.
It is located at the Radio Tower Hill. You can easily spot it as there is a sign at the entrance, which is a little way from the actual preserve.
You can see the WWF logo on the sign. WWF is for World Wildlife Fund. The Takin is classified as a ‘Vulnerable’ species. As such, it is Protected. The species survival is threatened by competition with the domestic yaks for food, and loss of habitat due to logging.
At the preserve, the Takin is safe and continues to survive. The numbers of the Takin is slowly but surely growing.
I visited the Takin Preserve with my friend who worked in Bhutan. We climbed long and steep flights of steps to get there. I was practically almost out of breath and panting by the time we reached the destination.
When we reached the place, my friend asked me to take a photo of this road (see photo below). I took the photo, and out of curiosity, I asked my friend what was so special about that road?
He answered nonchalantly that there was nothing special. Just that we took the shortcut that saved time. That road was the usual road tourists would take to visit the Takin Preserve. It was less steep and more scenic, too.
Well, what do you know? The journey to the preserve could have been nicer and less exhausting. So when you visit this place, please take note. Consider this path.
We reached an area at the entrance that looked like a stopover before stepping into the preserve. There were signs with details of the Takin – Bhutan’s National Animal. Here is one of them, and I have transcribed what was on the board to the text below.
Here was what the sign said:
Takin – Bhutan’s National Animal
On 25 November 1985, the Royal Government of Bhutan declared the takin (Budorcas taxicolor) the National Animal of Bhutan.
Takin is one of the larger and stockier of the goat antelope. Plump, bovine-like body is covered with dense, long yellow to brown hair. Short, stocky legs supported on large two-toed hooves and strong dew claws as an adaptation to the mountainous environment. The large head is made distinctive by the large arched ‘Roman’ nose. Both sexes have strong horns, 25 to 20 cm / 10 to 12 inches long, and curve out backwards, and upwards at the tip.
Range: Found in the Himalayas and western China.
Subspecies: Budorcas taxicolor whitei (the Bhutan Takin) has a distribution range from Bhutan eastward to Myanmar and China. In Bhutan, found primarily in the Jigme Dorji National Park.
– Body length: 170 to 220 cm / 5.7 to 7.3 feet
– Shoulder height: 100 to 130 cm / 3.3 to 4.3 feet
– Weight: Up to 350 kilograms / 770 pounds
Status: Classified as ‘Vulnerable’. In Bhutan, the takin is Protected. Threats include competition with domestic yaks for food, loss of habitat and logging.
Predators: Bears, snow leopards and wolves.
Habitat: In summer, they are found in forested valleys, migrating to rocky, grass covered alpine zones in winter; altitudes range between 1,000 and 4,500 meters above sea level.
Food Habits: The takin is a generalist herbivore, mostly a browser, it feeds, primarily in the early morning or late afternoon and eats leaves found on deciduous trees or shrubs, but also grasses, bamboo and herbs. They also have been known to drink from hot springs.
Reproduction: Gestation Period: 7 to 8 months
Young per birth: 1, rarely 2; Weaning: 7 to 8 months; Babies weigh 5 to 7 kilograms / 11 to 15.4 pounds
Sexual maturity: at 2.5 years
Life span: 12 to 15 years
Mating: July and August
There was another sign that you must not miss! This one presented the folklore of how the Takin was created. It is quite fascinating!
Text from this sign read:
THE TAKIN – a unique animal closely associated with Bhutan’s religious history and mythology.
Lama Drukpa Kuenlay (1455 – 1529, is one of Bhutan’s favorite saints, known for his outrageous antics. One day his devotees were gathered to witness his magical powers and they asked him to perform a miracle. Before complying, he demanded that he be given a whole cow and goat to eat. Having devoured both, leaving only the bones, he stuck the goat’s head on the bones of the cow. To everyone’s amazement, upon a command uttered by Drukpa Kuenlay, the animal came to life, arose, ran to the meadow and began to graze. The animal came to be known as the dong gyem tsey (Takin) and can still be seen grazing in mountain meadows of the kingdom.
Due to its uniqueness, the Takin continues to befuddle taxonomists. Unable to relate it to any other animal, they have put it in a category by itself, budorcas taxicolor.”
Of course, I could not resist taking a photo next to this fantabulous sign.
We proceeded to the enclosure where the Takin was. There was a fence all along the perimeter, and we did not see any Takin for a short while. Then suddenly, we chanced upon a few of them. The first thought that came to my mind was that they looked like deers!
My friend looked around, and wondered where all the Takin where. He commented that usually there would be quite a lot of them. And they are very friendly.
Round a corner, we found a few, grazing. Here are some photos of them.
This particular Takin was very friendly. One of the locals, a Bhutanese man, was feeding it grass that he plucked from the area outside the fence. The Takin seemed to appreciate it. And looked at me when I took this photo.
It had a slow and gentle demeanor. Its horns had a green metallic sheen at the top that gave the Takin a unique and almost pretty look.
The Takin Preserve is a very peaceful and tranquil place. It was winter and most of the grass were dry and mostly brown. Everywhere there were tall pine, juniper and cypress trees that provided much shade from the hot sun.
My friend and I sat on a bench, and enjoyed the immense beauty of the preserve. The quiet environment was very good for rest and respite. We chat and had a lovely time while we breathed the sweet scents of the pine, juniper and cypress trees.
Do visit the Takin Preserve when you are in Thimphu Bhutan. It is definitely worth the climb up the hill to see it.