Saturday, 17 February 2018

Bhutan Radio collars her First Wild Tiger

Named, Tendrel Zangmo, meaning "auspicious omen"
Tiger collaring in process: (c) Kuensel
It was a pleasant surprise from a conservation hero and tiger biologist Dr. Tshering Tempa who is leading the tiger radio-collaring programme in Bhutan, when the news of the first tiger being collared made the headline in National Newspaper on the first day of the first months of Lunar Dog Year, Losar. A wonderful reason to celebrate the New Year and perhaps an "Auspicious Omen" for the future of tiger conservation in Bhutan. 

As per the new article, the tiger collared was a 3-year-old female, weighing 110 kgs and the team of foresters and Bhutanese biologists who made this major breakthrough in tiger conservation named her Tedndrel Zangmo, meaning "the auspicious omen". 

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is one of the largest carnivores in the world, with its range restricted in but widely spread across Asia, from Turkey in the west to the eastern coast of Russia. There are eight traditionally accepted subspecies of tigers but three subspecies were eradicated as early as the 1980s. Today there is less than 3200 adult tigers in the wild, spread across 7% of their historical range. They remain as the most threatened carnivores in the world and the species is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation and losing landscape connectivity, prey depletion, and poaching are generally recognized as key threats leading to the decline of tiger population. 
Tiger in Subalpine Mountains of Bhutan
Panthera tigris tigris, the Bengal Tiger is the subspecies of tiger found in Indian sub-continent and neighboring states including Bhutan. While tiger population elsewhere are facing serious conservation threats, Bhutan's deep-rooted conservation ethos and reverence for tiger as one of the mystical creatures, have provided a safe haven for this animal to thrive. Conservation is further boasted through the visionary policies of our great Monarch with constitution mandating 60% forest cover for all the time to come, and designating over 50% of the country as protected areas and biological corridors. Through this conservation landscape, tigers roam between the country's subtropical jungles at an elevation less than 100 metres above sea level (masl) in Royal Manas National Park in the south to sub-alpine mountains as high as 4400 masl in Northern Wangchuck Centennial National Park. Therefore, Bhutan is the only tiger range country where Tiger and Snow Leopard habitat overlaps. Tiger is strictly protected under Scehdule I of the Forests and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan 1995, and people guilty of killing tiger are liable for a hefty fine of 1 million Ngultrum (15500.0 USD approx.). 
High-Resolution Image of Wild Tiger in Bhutan
On the forefront, foresters of Bhutan guard the tigers through intensive antipoaching patrolling using SMART tools and nation embarked to count the tigers using camera trap technology in 2014 and completed the survey successfully in 2015, counted 103 adult tigers with a density of 0.23 tigers per 100 This is one of the significant findings in Dr. Tempa's work for this Ph.D. programme, which showed to the world that Bhutan can play a significant role as tiger source sites, in global tiger recovery programme of doubling the tiger number in the world by 2022, from the baseline of 2010. Bhutan otherwise was not included in a popular tiger conservation approach of securing 6% of the total tiger habitat as tiger source sites. While such findings are vital for letting the global community know of Bhutan's tiger conservation efforts, for the Bhutanese conservationist and biologists, it is our solemn duty safeguard our natural heritage with rich biological diversity and pass down to our younger generations, as did by our forefather to us. Successfully collaring Tendrel Zangmo under the leadership of Dr. Thsering Tempa, our own tiger biologists and programme director of Regional Tiger and Cat Research Centre in Bhutan, is but a testimony that we as conservationists can move with the global pace in using modern technologies in conservation, and address the challenging issues. 

Tiger collaring team back in 2015, off to field.
The radio-collared tiger has a transmitter attached around its neck, which sends the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates every hour and the data will be recorded by the receiver by the researcher at the station. The data thus obtained can be very beneficial in understanding the movement pattern of the tiger, the use of migratory corridors, actual home range, etc., which in turn will help in identifying conservation interventions including mitigation of human-wildlife conflict, and preventing g poaching incidents 

I had the privilege of being in the core team of Tiger Radio Collaring Project when the maiden radio collar programme began in Royal Manas National Park in November 2015. A team of dedicated foresters, also led by Dr. Tempa tried our best effort to capture one but without success. Perhaps the time was not right then so it is awe-inspiring to learn that it has been a success this time; a great milestone for now and a great opportunity ahead. Congratulations to the Team. For me, it's a wonderful opportunity to have worked with a great tiger biologist of my times at home and have constant guidance and support from him, Thank you Dr. Tshering Tempa.
Letro: Twitter

P.S: I made a tweet of the news report and amazed to see my tweet getting the biggest toll of retweets and likes by the enthusiastic conservationists and feline lovers from worldwide. The news seems to have simply awed them. 

Monday, 12 February 2018

Destination Europe XI: Last trip of 2017

Much of Europe has been traveled and it was already the end of 2017. New Year was awaited but I wanted to make my probably last Europe trip before 2018 during the Christmas and New year Holidays. This I planned because 2018 will mark my last year at the University and I wanted to dedicate my time for successful completion of the University stuffs, most important one being the Master Thesis. Central Europe! I call it. Acclaimed to be most beautiful cities and much talked after by the travelers, I visited three cities. 

 23. Vienna: The capital city of Austria, which I am quite familiar with the name because many senior foresters graduated from a University in Vienna and also I have two of my forester friends studying there, learnt that the third friend was also not a stranger but a fellow blogger and an artist, with whom I occasionally converse. This is a plus point as I don't have to book hostels but to squeeze in their apartments and act like an important guest. I have informed my fellow foresters in Vienna about my travel plans and persuaded them to take a trip further with me as I have planned to visit the neighbouring cities too. 24th December, just before the Christmas I booked my travel and it was a tiring 15 hours journey in Bus from Greifswald to Vienna but worth a travel. 

I was warmly received at the station by one of my friends Rinzin who is a brotherly elder and senior Forester. He escorted me to their home and reaching their place gave even a warmer sensation of being at home. Four of them, two foresters and two layers were residing in the same house and sharing their meals together like a happy family. Being the lone Bhutanese, occasionally I use to have a strong feeling of loneliness and fondly miss my home. That day, however, was special with a special Bhutanese dish, jokes, gossips, and lot of laughter. The following day happened to by the Winter Solstice and it was yet again a pleasant surprise to have porridge early in the morning and begin the beautiful day contended. Later, my hosts in Vienna took me on a city sightseeing, but more than the eagerness to see the wonderful Vienna, I felt cozier talking with them and relaxing. 
My Hosts and me at Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace and Vienna

24. Budapest: I couldn't persuade them all but yes, two lawyer friends agreed to be my companion to the next destination, Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. Indeed my two forester friends had already visited the city the year before and moreover, our friend Dorji, the other senior Forester friend wasn't so well so it was logical for them to make yet another travel. Yet, I was glad that three of us were traveling together. Budapest is one of those cities often ranked in top 10 lists for travelers and I heard from many saying it is a must visit place. I am glad I made it there and more glad I was with like-minded friends, who weren't complaining of tiredness but so keen to keep the sightings counting. The accommodation was booked in a standard hostel we looked for Asian foods to have a nice feast, of course with a challenge because it was Christmas time and many restaurants were closed. Surprisingly, we came across a group fo Bhutanese students who were also on a euro tour there, it made a big pleasant group for us. We were strangers but the value of being Bhutanese made close acquaintances so fast. 

We had planned a night and two days in Budapest and to the chance to have a cruise by the famous river Danube in the evening, which provided us one of the most amazing night views of Budapest, with the glowing Parliament House in centre. Bubapest is so rich in History and it was amazing to learn that its parliament house is the third largest parliament building in the world, built in 19th century for millennium celebration. It glows majestically on the Bank of Danube, the river that begins from Black Forests in Germany, passes through 10 modern Europe countries and then ends in the Black sea. Budapest is indeed the term coined after congregating three cities there Buda and OldBuda on the right side and Pest on the left side of the river. There are countless attractions, many of which are bridges with their own significance and number of hot springs, experiencing of which requires more quality time. 
Chain Bridge

Parliament Building frnt view

Castle Bridge

Parliament building rear view with river Danude

Buda and river Danube as seen from Hill on Pest side
Caught in Budapest
25: Prague: After the trip to Budapest we returned to Vienna and there I spent two more days after which my return journey began with a halt at Prague, the capital of Czech Republic. It was very cold and my experience in Prague was brief. The past few days, I was with a good companion so the Prague moment was lonely and boring. It was considered one of the most beautiful cities but the cold took all the charm and I didn't find anything special there in Prague than the normal busy European streets. What a closing journey for 2017.

Presumably, it was the last trip but I can see lights on more journey as the journey will never end. 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Passu Diary as Book

Glad to have got an invitation for a great event at the corner in Thimphus heart but sadly I can't get to it. In little ways, I am part of some inspirational group of folks who not only writes but do amazing pieces of stuff.  "Passu Diary, Journal of an Ordinary Bhutanese" was the sole inspiration that awakened the pen inside me to jot down the scripts; not the heart throbbing romances, nor the inspirational self help classics, neither the satirically comic bundle of poems, but free-flowing proses and verses with the simple journey of life as the muse. The journey that is mostly through woods but through others too. And the others are varied and fascinating in itself like that of the exhilarating journey through the woods. Yes, a blogger was born in me in 2010, inspired by "Passu Diary". 

The first post was titled "Threshold of my Future" but little did I knew that the future is always yet to come, meaning greater days are yet to come. Each passing day has its own stimulus and taste are always different. And with a lively taste bud, there is numerous flow of muses in our sphere, in the blogosphere, the reason I am a part of some inspiration group of folks, the bloggers. Bloggers are writers and writers are authors. Many bloggers friends have a book or two in their name and each day passing day a new book is coming and I can only feel myself at the Threshold of my Future. 

Expressing my heartiest congratulation to Chaplop Passang Tshering for his debut book titled with his Blog name. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Destination Europe X: London

"To London and Paris, 
I may not be able to take you,
But to all Bhutans sacred heritages,
I would take you on a pilgrimage." 

A Bhutanese song resonates in my mind whenever I travel around. Not that I am taking my beloved one to wonderous places but because of some fate and fortune, I could make the travels. Studying in Europe is full of opportunities and choices; the opportunities to intricately blend with the rich culture, explore the most historic civilizations, tour the cities and contemplate on the wonderful architecture and clean environments, learn new languages, meet new friends and of course immerse in the pool of knowledge. The choice is all ours as visiting places even as a backpacker is not so cheap. Staying idle in the school and totally immersing in our academics would not only enhance my knowledge but also help save some penny but then won't I regret once I get back to my home for not having seen Europe? I decided to explore on. Having visited Paris the year before, in December 2017, I could visit London. 
The Thames River and Tower Bridge

22. London: Because London cant be traveled on Schengen visa, its difficult to obtain the UK visa without a valid reason. I am glad to have come across a wonderful course on conservation at Cambridge and more glad, I got an assistance from Friends of Bhutan in Germany to pay the course Fee, which gives me the ticket to visit the UK. Yet unfortunate, the Visa application center in Berlin was closed and had to travel to Dusseldorf, a city which is 8 hours by train from my place, making it costlier. The UK visit visa costs 170 Euro processing fee and 30 more to ship the passport after processing. Travel and a night logistics in Dusseldorf cost 100 so its already 300 Euro expense before I got my visa in hand. However, the airfare to London was cheap as I could book the tickets much earlier in Ryan airlines, which flew me in less than 40 Euros. 

So 7th December 2017, my winter trip for 2017 started with the much-awaited travel to London. London, the capital city of UK is the most populous city and ranks 5th in the costliest city to live in Europe. Berlin, on the other hand, is ranked 38, no wonder how we are sustaining with a 750 Euro monthly stipend, and making numerous travels in between. Consumer price in Berlin is 18% lower than London. So, my embarking a 10 days journey to London and Cambridge will cost me a fortune as compared to my stay in Greifswald and visiting other cities in Europe. I flew from Shonefeld to Stansted and took a bus from Stansted to London which costs 10 pounds for the 1-hour journey. A three-hour journey in Germany costs only 11 Euros so I saw the aforementioned sharp contrast at first glance. Then followed the costs of city transports, hostels, and of course food. 

I planned two days sightseeing trip in London before I move to Cambridge so I am glad to have visited all the major points of interests in the two days. It was also an awesome feeling to see the snow falling while I was in London, but later realized it badly disrupted the transport services as my bus to Cambridge from London was delayed by 3 hours. However, here are some of the beautiful glimpses fo London through my Lens.

Buckingham Palace

House Guard Parade

The Street and Buildings

Trafalgar Square

Palace of Westminster

Westminster Abbey

London Eye

Madame Tussauds 

Kings College, Cambridge University

River Cam

Travellers Note: If the interiors of the monuments are not visited, a majority of the place of interests can be covered in a single day provided you take an Oyster card for city transport. Oyster card costs 5 pounds and one can recharge it with 10-20 pounds and use the card in all public transport services. If not a single journey will cost nearly 5 Pounds and it is expensive. For a backpacker and solo traveler like me, I save lots of time and don't leave the sites unvisited. My trip to Cambridge is covered through the post on the training that I attended there. The last two images are from Cambridge. 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

A Promising Journey for 2018

The 2018 has kicked off and a week has already passed by. And if a new year resolution was set, it should be clear by now, whether we are in the right direction in achieving the goals of the year. I don't have resolutions as such for 2018 but as I look forward into 2018, there are lots I have to accomplish and it will definitely keep me busy most of the time. It is a peaceful beginning for 2018 for me and as I take up the further journey, I look forward a peaceful ride, but of course with challenges that will alter me into better form. 

As u set into wilderness, appease the deities.
(Towards Black Mountains in 2015)

This is my third semester of my M.Sc programme and I am quite relieved to have completed majority of the electives in the first two semesters. This leaves me with more time for completing a basic module and planning for my final semester, that is exclusively for Master Thesis Works. So basically I don't have to prepare for exams this semester but have to present my Research Internship Protocol, which is in line to my Master Thesis Works. I aspire to complete the presentation by end of this month or early February and leave some free time for myself to aptly plan my field work. 

Being Landscape Ecology student, I wanted to do my thesis research on a title encompassing landscape conservation and I am glad to be doing on a title "Assessing structural connectivity of Biological Corridor for tiger movement between National Parks in Bhutan." With support from my mentors and professional guardians at home and my supervisor here in the University, I am glad to have secured the Early Career Grant from National Geographic Society, which puts me in a safer side without having to worry about research funding. But more than the fund, I am glad to be amongst the few NatGeo Explorers from Bhutan. Being DAAD scholar, I am also glad to have my proposal and travel plans accepted by DAAD and got the travel grant approved well in advance. I am already set to fly back to Bhutan by Mid march for the following three months. 

So, I see a switch in my travelling this year unlike in 2017 where I traveled extensively in Europe during my free times. 2018 will pull me back to wilderness and I am already excited, firstly because I have been away from home for over one and a half year and secondly, I am quite excited with my field work to have some interesting findings. Unlike my solo trips of 2017, my trips into wilderness for 2018 will require the support from various offices of the Department of Forests and Park Services, and I am being optimistic that right field colleagues would be in my wild expeditions to gather some good data for writing my thesis, and of course contributing little efforts towards conservation in Bhutan. 

Each year, I have been trying to attend one international conference for all the benefits that it gives. The Global Landscape Forum 2017 at Bonn was a gratifying experience and for 2018, I am trying to attend the 10th World Dendro Conference in Thimphu. I have already planned such that I can attend in full and then return back to Germany and I really look forward it after tiring field days. 

That will leave me with limited time to complete the requirements of my Master Thesis as I plan to graduate by Mid September and safely land back home to rejoin my service at JSWNP. Hush! that's going to be a fast race but I will be glad because I would have achieved the Master of Science from University of Greifswald. And I hope that JSWNP welcomes me back in good spirit so that I can contribute to the great works that my colleagues are already doing, and may be add some extra impetus. But definitely, the future is going to be an opportunity. 

Well, 2018 is yet again going to be a remarkable year for Bhutan. We are progressing into the Third Parliamentary Elections and Bhutan will definitely have more talks on politics than ever. I am glad that I would be able to vote in person this time for both National Council and National Assembly elections and that in itself is a great responsibility for me. We would be probably having our NC elections in April and NA elections in September-October. This years NA elections seems to become more competitive based on the current flow of news on social media but I should be mindful in voting for a party that will best benefit the country with innovative current developments and long-term sustainable policies. My conscience should be able to judge the parties well and should vote intelligently. As a civil servant, we should remain apolitical but I feel civil servants should also raise their voices with regards to party politics for the betterment of the nation because Civil Service is the biggest pool with educated lots who, if not swayed by corrupt practices can think better for the country. Any way, who ever wins, I would be striving my efforts towards conservation until next election and further, as deemed necessary by the bound with RCSC. But any way conservation of nature is something every human should contribute in this anthropocentric era. It is a collective responsibility. 

So 2018 looks promising and all I need now is to sail with the tide. 

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Thank you 2017; Happy New Year 2018

After numerous travels, I am glad to be finally back in Greifswald, a home away from home. 2017 has been unique phase of my life that it was a maiden year away from my mom. For that matter my social interactions were also limited and for my friends and relatives, my point of contact was always virtual. I am glad that 2017 have been spectacular without much agonies but filled with cherishing memories of merriment. I remain thankful to all my friends and relatives for their lovely unwavering supports. 

2017 has been rewarding for the efforts I have put and I remain grateful to my professional guardians both at home and in the university for their trust and rendering their appealing recommendations. 2017 added more value to my professional expertise and I am glad to have invested in personal profiling with support from well wishers. 

2017 is deep immersion into academics. Together with my LENC classmates, learning was always spontaneous with some doses of party and fun in between. Specially in a far away place without any fellow countrymen, my LENC mates are more than friends. Thank you all for being together always. 

2017 is also a landmark in my travel diary with visit to numerous cities around Europe and with last leg of Euro tour completed with visit to my friends in Vienna, where moments of our togetherness were unusually great. I already miss the good company I had with them and will always remember their great hospitality and companionship. As 2017 comes to an end, I am glad to be at my home, safe and sound, warm and cosy, so thank you 2017 before I bid you farewell. 

2018 will be just another year but I see more challenges coming. Please be kind with me and every sentient beings. 


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Destination Europe IX: Trip to Poland

21: Warsaw: My trip to Warsaw was in October 30th. Unlike all my Euro tours, my trip to Warsaw was different in a sense that I was accompanied by my colleagues from the University. However the weather in Warsaw was bad. Bad to such an extent that there was a severe storm causing extensive disruption in railways and causing some deaths due to environmental misshapes. However we were lucky to have had a good glimpse of Warsaw old town during our second day. Some snaps taken at Warsaw.

Happy Birthday WeFie

Good thing about Warsaw is that the city is very cheap. Be it in public transport services or in restaurants and hostels, the rates are very cheap as compared to Germany, which makes Poland an easy destination for travelers. Pierogi is considered a national dish of Poland so my friend ordered a plate of Fungi Pierogi, which basically is like dumpling or momo. It was a good experience to eat momo in a faraway place. I didnt knew but later came to learn that one of our friend was having her birthday, which gave us a good reason to have some toast of cake with happy birth day greetings. It wasn't so well prepared one though. 

I was told by my other friends that city of Krakow is much beautiful than Warsaw but for me I am glad to have checked in the capital city of Poland. 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Destination Europe VIII: Trip Italy Part II

18. Florence: The "cradle of renaissance" Florence is little more than 3 hours by bus from Padua, where I halted my last night after visiting the floating city of Venice. While in Florence, since I had only a half day, I make a random stroll through the city doing sightseeing. With limited time in hand, the best one can do is climb up to the Piazzale Michelangelo square and have a sizzling panoramic view of the city of Florence with its river Argo calmly flowing by its side. In the evening, since it is summer, days are long so its always fun to walk the streets, buy a beer and sit beneath the shades of the tall cathedral.
View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Florence and River Arno

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
19. Pisa: The next day I moved to Pisa only to have a glimpse of the leaning tower of Pisa. Once recorded as one of the seven wonders of world, every body know that the tower of Pisa leans but only by visiting the site does one realize how breathtaking the tall leaning tower is like. There are two beautiful churches near by it so for people having deep faith in churches, there is more than leaning tower at Pisa.

Leaning tower with two nearby churches

57 m Tower leans with 3.99 degree

20: Rome: I should have returned from Venice rather than spending more  money in travelling to other cities of Italy. But the famous quotes like "Rome was not Built in a day" and "While in Rome, do as Romans do" and vague histories that I heard of the great Roman empire tempted me to travel further south. Rome, the capital city of Rome has nearly 3000 years history of globally influential arts, architecture and cultural display. I just had a one single day in Rome so I made a point to visit all the points of interests in Rome. But this time, I had keen interest in the ancient ruins of the Roman Empire so made a paid visit to the Roman Forum, and the great Roman Colosseum. Vatican city, the headquarters of Roman catholic church and the smallest country of the world lies within the Rome.

Colosseum side view

The great Colosseum of Rome

Ancient Rome in Ruins and Present Rome City

Rome as seen from Roman Empire

Ruins of the Empire

Inside Colosseum 

Near the Spanish Steps

Vatican City Church.