Wangchuck Centennial Park
Wangchuck Centennial National Park (WCNP) was formally gazetted as a National Park under Bhutan’s protected area system on June 10, 2008. It is the largest National Park amongst 10 Protected Areas in the kingdom of Bhutan with an area of 4914km². WCNP is declared as a tribute by the Government and people of Bhutan to the Wangchuck Dynasty for selflessly leading Bhutan for 100 years ensuring her sovereignty, stability and tranquility. The park is the most important high water towers feeding four major rivers of Bhutan, namely Punatsangchhu(Sunkosh),Mangdechhu, Chamkharchhu and Kuri chhu (tributaries of Manas) covering large extent of critical watershed of the country. Permanent snow covered mountains such as Gangkar Puensum, Rinchen Zoegila and Jazayla are located in the park. In the winter, almost 85% of the park remains under snowcoverforabout four months.
It is located in the central north part of the country. To the east, it is adjacent to Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, and to the west it is adjacent to the Jigme Dorji National Park. In the south it is bordered by continuous biological corridor. Thus, WCNP forms up the integral part of a protected area complex in the country and in the region transcending the boundaries of five political Dzongkhags and nine Gewogs. It encompasses Gasa, Wangdue Phodrang, Bumthang, Trongsa and Lhuntse Dzongkhags. The following Gewogs fall under the park:
Lunana under Gasa, Chhokhor and Tang under Bumthang, Sephu, Dangchhu and Kazhiin Wangdiphodrang, Kurtoe, and Gangzurin Lhuntse and Nubi in Trongsa.
Park’s Mission and Goals:
Thepark’smain missionand goal is toconserve natural biodiversity in harmony with people’s values and aspirations. Following main goals as listed hereunderit:
- To conserve, protect and maintain the viability of species community, ecosystems, species in a way that will allow natural process of succession and evolution to continue withminimal human interference.
- Protect cultural, historical and religious sites.
- Contribute to the socio-economic development of the park residents and local people in the Park premises through sustainable use of the park resources and wise management.
WCNP hasfollowing management objectives:
- To establish infrastructure and place adequate human resources in thePark.
- To identify, prioritize and mitigate immediate threats to wildlife and their habitats.
- Facilitate the control of orreversal of negative land uses in the park.
- Build up scientific database on both society and biodiversity so that informed decisions can be made.
- Protectreligious, cultural and historical sites of natural, regional or local importance.
- Enhance socio-economic development of the park residents through participatory programs suchas community based eco-tourism and other ICDP packages.
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WCNP has its head quarter presently located at Nasiphel connected with 22 km farm road from Chamkhar under Bumthang Dzongkhag. It has been managed by the Chief Forestry Officer as head of the overall Park management. It is supported by Administrative Assistant and Accountant.
Further, four independent units called Conservation Development and Environmental Education Section (CDEES), Species Management and Research Section (SMRS), Information & Database Management Section (IDMS), Protection of Wildlife and Resource Management Section (PWRMS) are established, headed by the Forest Officers and Forest Rangers. To cover up large extent of areas, the three Range offices have been established viz. Central, Eastern and Western Park Range Offices. The Central Park Range Office is managed by a Senior Park Ranger -I and three Forest Ranger with seven foresters to run the daily activities of the range to serve in the interest ofpublic. Two Guard posts are established at Tang and Dhur under Central Range. Western Range is managed by Senior Park Ranger–II and supported by four Foresters. Western Range Office is in government building constructed with the support from WWF Bhutan. The Eastern Park Range is managed by Forester with one Forest Ranger and four foresters.
Wildlife habitats in WCNP ranges from cool broad leaved to dry alpinescrubs, which are relatively in good status as hereunder:
The park comprises of three ecological zones with six different habitat types, namely cool broad leave forest, mixed conifer forest, fir forest, juniper forest, alpine meadows and scrubs, and alpine scree and elevation ranging from 2500m to beyond 5000m. A total of 693 species of vascular plants are recorded in the last (October, 2008) survey.
Floristic Composition and its importance to wildlife management
Three of six zones showed are identified in this park, namely cool temperate zones (2500-3000m), sub alpine zone (3000-4000m), and alpine zone above4000m. Within these ecological zones, the following forest types, which have been described and identified, are as hereunder:
- Cool broadleaved forest
- Mixed conifer forest
- Juniper forest
- Alpine meadows and scrubs
- Alpine scree
Species of Ethno-botanical Value
In keeping with the legendary myth of Bhutan known to the outside world as “Druk Lhomenjong” meaning the land of medical herbs, this park also has a plethora of medicinal plants. So far, a total of 33 species have been documented in the areas covered by the survey. This includes the highly priced Yartsa Goenbup and the Himalayan Yew Taxus baccata wallichaina, which is found to be rare throughout its range in this park. The national tree of Bhutan Cupressus corneyana, is not only a valuable timber species butits leaves find its use in incense making too.
The park straddles two zoogeographic realms (ecotone of the Palaeartic and Indo-Malayan) with wide range of habitats. It is rich in overall species diversity. Several of these species are rare, endangered, or endemic to the region.
A total of 43 mammals species were recorded during the survey including 8 species which are totally protected. They are Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), Common Leopard (Panthera pardus), Snow Leopard (Unica unica), Himalayan Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus laniger), Leopard cat (Felis bengalensis), Himalayan Musk bear (Moschus chrysogaster), Himalayan Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis thar) and Bhutan Takin( Budorcas taxicolar)
A total of 250 species of birds have been recorded in the park. Amongst 250 bird species, 130 are confirmed to breed in the park. During the last survey in the October 2008, Leucosticte brandti (Brandt’s Mountain Finch) was recorded for the first time in Bhutan. The Leptopoecile sophiae(White-browed Tit warbler) was recorded for the second time at a different location from its earlier record. Both species are recorded breeding in Bhutan for the first time. 42 species of butterflies have been recorded from the park and its buffer zone.
It also offers visitors opportunity to enjoy the bio-cultural heritage through its eco tourism attractions like Nomads’ Festival, Farm houses, eco trails, hot springs and other attractions. Bumthang is now also connected by flights from Paro and Yonphula every alternate day.
We welcome you to come and enjoy the beauty of Wangchcuk Centennial National Park and learn more aboutthePark.
It is a two days mega event organized by WCNP in close collaboration with various stakeholders in order to showcase nomadic culture and tradition. The festival has traditional dances, games, food products, handicrafts and other products displayed during the event. The event is held annually or alternate year from 23-25th February in Bumthang.
Visitors to WCNP can avail themselves of Bhutanese alpine and organic farm house experience at Nasiphel and Tang valley where the visitors will be treated with true bucolic Bhutanese hospitality. The facilities at the farm houses include hot stone bath, evening cultural program, village walk, opportunity to partake in traditional games like Khuru and degor beside the optionto trek alongthe Orochhototrail and Bumthang cultural trek. Farm houses are recognized by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Orochhoto Day Hike
This short trail named after Raven (National bird) beak takes you through a mix of blue pine, hemlock, fir forests and Rhododendron and provides you with an opportunity to experience nature’s beauty. The trail overlooks the valley and offers magnificent view of the near by hills and hamlets.
Bumthang Cultural Trek(Febila Trek)
This is roughly 10 km eco trail takes around 6 hours to complete and passes through the habitat of the endangered Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens). The trek takes you across mixed coniferous forests, meadows and roosting places of numerous birds before you reach Tandingang. The trail used to be trading route for the people of Chhokortoe and Tang in the oldendays.
Dapham Dzong Ruins
The ruins sits at a strategic location in the centre of the Chokortoe valley and has monitored the trade routes between Bhutan and Tibet. The dzong could belong to the second half of the 16th century with its upper castle built between 1550-1700, according to archaeologists. The ruins are merely half an hour of walkfrom Nganglhakhang.
Dorjibee Weaving Centre
Locatedin Dorjibi village, half an hour drive from Chamkhar has 20 women engaged in making Bhutanese weaves using local dyes and improved looms. It is joint initiative by WWF Bhutan and Wangchuck Centennial NationalPark aimed at providing additional source of income for the mostly potato growing communities and preserve the culture of weaving using locally available raw materials and reduce pressure on natural resources.
Bebzur Chukpo’s Mansion
This old three storey traditional house that belongedto the rich man of Bebzur village in Tang valley has 23 doors, living rooms, store and corridorsinsidethehouse.Thecentralandoriginal part of the building is untouched and firm in design and architecture.
Due to a lack of maintenance and coordination, the house slowly started to disintegrate but given the historical significance of the house, interventions were made and restored by Wangchuck Centennial National Park. Visitors to this traditional house can also see the footprint of Thugsey Dawa, son of Terton Pema Lingpaplacedon the altar of the house today.
Dhur is five days of trek from the nearest village in Menchugang. It has nine hot springs with different medicinal properties like curing rheumatism, arthritis, skin lesions and ulcers, body aches, headaches, and TB. A community– managed guest house with modern toilets and showers, kitchen, soak pools with sheds, drinking water facilities is available for visitors. Porters can be hired from Dhur and Lusibe villages.
Jule Tsho lies en route Dhur hotspring and before reaching Julela. It is almost 800 meters long and 200 meters wide. It is a glacier-fed lake with crystal clear water. Around 45 minutes walk from this lake visitor can see Mt. Gangkar Punsum the highest unclimbed peak in the world with a height of 7570 meters. It can be seen from Julela on a clear day. The mountain is sacred to Bhutanese and is believed to be the abode of local deities.