On November 4th, Bhutan observed its first International Snow Leopard Day. Celebrations took place at the Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve, Haa. The theme for 2014’s celebration was “conserving snow leopards to secure a healthy mountain ecosystem”, and for a country like Bhutan that is heavily reliant on hydropower generation, conserving the major water towers of the mountains is crucial. Essentially, saving this flagship species ensures a stable mountain ecosystem.
The celebrations were co-organized by the Department of Forest and Park Services and Haa Dzongkhag administration. Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly, Lyonpo Jigme Zangpo graced the celebrations as Chief Guest. Other guests included representatives from BTFEC, WWF Bhutan Program, NRDCL, ICS, NRED, SFED, BWS, SWS & Paro division, leaders of local government and Gewog administration. School principals and heads of autonomous agencies based in Haa sector heads from Haa Dzongkhag, National Centre for Riverine and Lake Fisheries were also in attendance. Additionally, teachers and students from Katso Lower Secondary School, Tshapey Lower Secondary School and Chundu Middle Secondary School also participated in the celebration. The event was attended by more than 500 audiences.
The festivities commenced with hoisting the national flag, singing the national anthem followed by a marching ceremony. Dasho Dzongdag introduced the Honorable Speaker, who highlighted the importance of celebrating the day. He emphasized how important it is to conserve the rich biodiversity Bhutan possesses. The Chief Guest also shared the information about conservation efforts being put forth by our visionary leaders and how each citizen is entrusted to ensure that what we have today is handed over to future generations intact. The days program included an educative quiz competition among three schools in attendance (Katsho Lower Secondary School, Tshapey Lower Secondary School and Chundu Middle Secondary School), a skit performance by theatre artists and many entertaining Bhutanese dances by school children and Dzongkhag dancers. The day ended with a vote of thanks by the Thrizin, Haa Dzongkhag and Chief Forestry Officer, Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve followed by tashi labey.
The event also formally inducted the renaming of Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve to “Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve”, in appreciation of the strong commitment of Druk Gyalpo to the conservation sector. The event was financially supported by WWF Bhutan Programme through the “Eco Life Project”- Sustaining Ecosystem for Livelihood, and the project is co-ordinated by Wildlife Conservation Division, Department of Forests and Parks Services.
Photo above the article: Snow leopard Day celebrations at Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve, Haa
See more country updates here:
First volume of Ilbirs., newsletter of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program