Bhutan | Thimphu

Motithang Takin Preserve Thimphu

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08 Nov 2019 | Fri

Day 02 of 13

Today’s Events:

– Exploring Capital City Thimphu Bhutan

– Bamboo Supported Construction Site Thimphu

– National Memorial Chorten Thimphu

– Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine

– Bhutan Gross National Happiness (GNH) Centre

– Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan

Lunch in Thimphu

> Motithang Takin Preserve Thimphu <

– Tashichho Dzong Viewpoint Thimphu

– Centenary Farmers Market Thimphu

– Evening Lecture with Kuenzang Dechen

– Motithang Takin Preserve Thimphu –

Our next destination would take us into a beautiful, higher altitude, forested area just northwest of Thimphu – the Motithang Takin Preserve.

Wildlife Reserve For Takin

Entrance Sign at Motithang Takin Preserve

Takin Preserve gives you a chance to see the Takins, (Bhutan’s national animal) – a rather odd mammal related to goats but resembling more an antelope. Takin also resembles a cross between a gnu and a musk deer. It has an immense face and a tremendously thick neck.

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Entrance at Motithang Takin Preserve

Motithang Takin Preserve

Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, Bhutan is a wildlife reserve area for takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Originally a mini-zoo, it was converted into a preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free. The reason for declaring takin as a national animal of Bhutan on 25 November 2005 (Budorcas taxicolor) is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley.

– from Wikipedia Motithang Takin Preserve
Bhutanese Takin at Motithang Takin Preserve

Lets’s Find Out More About the Takin

What is a Takin?

The takin (Budorcas taxicolor; /ˈtɑːkɪn/), also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, is a large species of ungulate of the subfamily Caprinae (sheep, goat-antelope, mountain goat) found in the eastern Himalayas. It includes four subspecies: the Mishmi takin (B. t. taxicolor), the golden takin (B. t. bedfordi), the Tibetan (or Sichuan) takin (B. t. tibetana), and the Bhutan takin (B. t. whitei).

Whilst the takin has in the past been placed together with the muskox in the tribe Ovibovini, more recent mitochondrial research shows a closer relationship to Ovis (sheep). Its physical similarity to the muskox is therefore an example of convergent evolution. The takin is the national animal of Bhutan.

– from Wikipedia Takin
Takin Posing for the Camera

Bhutan Takin

The Bhutan Takin (Budorcas taxicolor whitei) is a vulnerable subspecies of Takin native to Bhutan, North Eastern India, Western part of China, and Tibet. The main threats to the Bhutan Takin are hunting and habitat loss.

In Bhutan, Takin are found in bamboo forests at altitudes of 1,000 to 4,500 metres (3,300 to 15,000 ft), where they eat grass, buds and leaves. Takins are diurnal, active in the day, resting in the heat on particularly sunny days. Takin gather in small herds in winter and herds of up to a hundred individuals in the summer; in winter, they move to lower elevations and split into smaller herds of 10-50 individuals, mostly in the Gasa District. As is often seen in bison, old males are often solitary.

– from Wikipedia Bhutan Takin
Takin Up Close

Legend of the Takin – How it Became the National Animal of Bhutan

Mythology of the Bhutanese Takin

The local mythology related to declaring takin as the national animal of Bhutan is dated to the 15th century. A Tibetan saint by the name Drukpa Kunley, popularly called by the epithet “The Divine Madman” is credited with creating the tamin with unique features. Drukpa Kunley, who was not only a religious preacher but also a proficient tantric, was requested by the people of Bhutan during one of his religious lectures to conjure a miracle before them. The saint agreed to do so provided he was fed for lunch, a whole cow and a whole goat. Once served, he devoured the food of both animals and left out the bones. He then took out the head of the goat and fixed it to the skeleton of the cow and uttered abracadabra and the magic worked. With a snap, he created a live animal, which had the head of the goat and the body of the cow. The animal sprang up and moved on to the meadows to graze. The animal was then given the name dong gyem tsey (takin). Since then this animal has been a common sight in the hills of Bhutan. Because of this magical creation with high religious connotation, the animal has been adopted as the national animal of Bhutan.

– from Wikipedia Motithang Takin Preserve
Takins Eating Tall Grass

Unique Animal at a Unique Preserve

Having never seen such a unique animal like a Takin it was a real treat for us. Your first impression is that it looks like a mix between a cow and a goat but other online sources (San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance) mention that it has horns like a wildebeest, a nose like a moose, a tail like a bear, and a body like a bison. So it’s definitely a unique-looking animal.

Once we arrived at the entrance, there was a short walk up a paved incline walkway. The entrance had a small visitor center. At the Takin viewing area, there are a couple of spots where you can take pictures of the Takin (if they happen to be present – they could be off in the distance). We got lucky as a few of them were close by.

In the distance, there were some Sambar deer (I think that is what they mentioned) but were much harder to take pictures of.

Overall we found the Motithang Takin Preserve to be very interesting and unique – especially the Takin!

Motithang Takin Preserve Thimphu

Map – Motithang Takin Preserve Thimphu

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