Saturday, 31 December 2016

Reflecting on the Beauty: 2016 in Journey.

Inaugural of New Bridge and Road for Darilog.
It all began with simple resolutions of striving to live how I lived thus far without changing, to stay contended with what life has given me, and to embrace each day with happiness. And beautifully as the 2016 set its voyage, I saw myself taking the cruise happily. The fair weathers days brought me more closely to relatives with more social gatherings; visiting the temples for virtuous offerings, taking part into meritorious promotion ceremonies, being part of important inaugural ceremonies at the village, I saw the beautiful spontaneous development of life. 2016 is remarkable for my remotely isolated village as our people, once disconnected were finally connected with permanent bridge and farm roads, bringing more joy to my fellow villagers.
All set to Trek from Phobjikha to Adha.

Technically, 2016 was also very active and busy year for me, though I had to take the leave from JSWNP family halfway. By far, I have traveled to all the villages under JSWNP except for Reti. Probably, I also had some of the longest treks within the park, walking all the way from Phobjikha to Adha, Adha to Rukha and finally exiting from Taksha in a small and efficient entourage, monitoring the progress of WWF funded project activities, for which I am the focal. Such beautiful journey though tiring, are also the most satisfying journeys as I could connect my soul with nature, people and livelihoods, the combination of which is vital for successful conservation efforts.
GIS Training in JSWNP

Focally, I had the privilege of organizing important and strategic training workshops for my fellow foresters at JSWNP. For the first time, JSWNP could have a week-long GIS training to equip our friends in map making, followed by SMART-ly training our conservationists for patrolling and then rapidly assessing the Human-Wildlife Conflict issues in the park. As such, the three major trainings not only made us independent GIS analysts, but also strategic conservation scientist and innovative social negotiators, which are vital instruments in protected area management.

Internationally, I was lucky to be part of His Excellency the Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji’s entourage to attend the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on tiger conservation in New Delhi in April. Other members were Hon’ble DG of the Department, Mr. Chencho Norbu, Director of UWICE, Dr. Nawang Norbu, Mrs. Singye Wangmo Sr. FO, RMNP, Mr. Tandin FO, WCD. So I becoming part of such a great team was a real blessing. Since I joined DoFPS, I have been actively engaged in many field works of camera trapping tigers and also had been a part of National Tiger Survey 2015. The opportunity was right for me as I could learn more about the status of tiger conservation in all the 12 other tiger range countries. Sadly tiger was declared extinct in Cambodia, while global tiger number saw a rise. While in DoFPS, I was always a core minute keeper, be it Forest Conference or National Park Conference so I also had the privilege to learn how firmly we should frame resolutions from such big conference.

Professionally, I saw the lights for my further study when I received the confirmation for my pre-selection for M.Sc. Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation (LENC) at the University of Greifswald on 27th January. I applied for M.Sc. LENC under German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funding in December 2015. I was anxiously waiting for the final selection results, but all at a surprise I received a telephone call from the course coordinator without prior notice, to which I had to give an interview which lasted over 25 minutes. Luckily that day I was working in my office and not in the field. Dr. Tiemo asked me everything and my he seemed to be contended with my response as he gave me a hint that I would be selected. “I look forward to see you soon in Greifswald.” He said before dropping the call. And few days later, I received the final confirmation for enrolment to the university on 8th March. For DAAD scholarship, you will have to first apply to the University, which will finalise the required candidates. Once selected for enrolment, there are fewer things to do with DAAD, the scholarship provider. By last week of July, I had to bid farewell to my office, and then to my friends and relatives, with new dreams and aspirations. I had landed in Greifswald in 29th of July. For an orphan who lost the Daddy without sight, DAAD is now taking care of my 26 months long stay in Germany.
Greifswald Days.

Studying in Europe has its own charm and this would cover many more posts in my blog, which I will share occasionally. However, the 2016 highlights from Europe is that I became student after four years and also a free bird. Without compromising the classes, I could visit the capital cities of Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, of course Germany, and the city of Malmo in Sweden. Life really has turned out to be journey through woods and many more and each travel gives better exposure and experiences, which I would share in subsequent posts.

Paris and the Eiffel. 

And beautifully the wonderful 2016 is coming to an end today. The journey as I embraced from day one has been beautiful and the voyage ended without much turbulence of waves, all owing to many wonderful people that surrounded me. Therefore, I thank you all. I thank my parents and relatives for your love, trust and confidence in me which bolster my disposition to be a better human being; my chief, mentors, teachers and field colleagues for your guidance, encouragement, and supports, which strengthened my aspiration to be a better forester; my friends in and beyond social media for being a wonderful companionship and helping me overcome obstacles, celebrate success, finding solace when emotionally struck, for life is never a bed of roses. Having landed in a faraway place, I feel blessed being Bhutanese, I thank my motherland for my identity and our great Druk Gyalpos for having secured our identity. 

And as we begin a new year tomorrow, I wish everybody a happy and wonderful 2017. May we happily achieve your New Year resolutions, may we embrace more success and excellence, may 2017 be filled with love and laughter, health and happiness, peace and prosperity. May the misfortunes and grief lost its track before reaching us. 

Wishing everyone Happy New Year

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

National Identity and Unity: The Beauty of Small Bhutan

With a size equivalent to renowned Switzerland, Bhutan is also compared to Switzerland when it comes to landscape beauty and natural aestheticism. Besides the beautiful mountains, Switzerland and Bhutan have one thing in common: Happiness. Switzerland ranks top in the World Happiness Report and Bhutan is by far a country of happy people. Being world’s leading economy with highest nominal per capita, Switzerland’s Happiness is attributed to their developed status of the country.  Switzerland has population of over 8 million people. Bhutan is a least developed country with a meagre population of 0.8 million. Being comparable to developed world when it comes to Happiness gives us a pride and humility as a Bhutanese. As such the beauty of Bhutan lies not only in its serene forests and pristine mountains. It indeed lies in its unity as a nation with common goals and aspirations.

The value of unity in Bhutan is deep. We Bhutanese believe in the karmic actions and bonds. The unity of Bhutanese as a nation first emerged 400 years ago when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel established the first governance system in Bhutan, the Choe-sed Nyi-dhen (Dual system of governance with secular and temporal heads). Through the ages, while civil wars torn the regions apart, for the external enemies Bhutanese were united always. However, destiny had it that peoples representative of Bhutan unanimously enthroned Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary King of Bhutan in Punakha dzong on 17th December 1907. Since then, we Bhutanese have always reaped the peace of hard work put in by our benevolent monarchs and on every 17th December we come together not only to celebrate the joy of unity under the leadership of our great kings but also to pay tribute to their selfless efforts and to rededicate our service to Tsa-wa-sum.  
3 generation Kings in Trongsa: 17th December 2016

This year has been more significant and historic with culmination of many events. While the year, Male Fire Monkey is the birth year of Guru Rinpochhe, the second Budha who brought Buddhism in Bhutan and prophesised for the coming of great kings, 2016 also marks the 400th year of Zhabdrungs arrival in Bhutan, who established the first governance system for Drukyul. The year has become more historic as we Bhutanese are blessed with the birth of Royal Gyalsey, the Crown Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, to usher continuity of Wangchuck Dynasty in Bhutan. 17th December 2016 marks the 109th National day and indeed a new era after completing 108 auspicious years. The day also became significant as His Royal Highness the Crown Prince attends the 109th National Day together with his father, His Majesty the King and Royal Grandfather, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo , the journey to new era at the historic Trongsa Dzong. The people by virtue of holding the Bhutanese identity are luckiest to witness such culmination of historic events, which will foster stronger unity as nation.
Ambassador of Bhutan to EU, H.E. Aum Pema Choden
addressing the gathering in Brussels

Being Bhutanese is tagged with happiness once we are outside. However for Bhutanese, happiness doesn’t come with material wealth but with spiritual wellbeing and mental contentment. Residing and studying in Universities abroad, Bhutanese are often without fellow countrymen as colleagues and I am not an exception. I study in the University of Greifswald in Germany and since my coming here, I never met any fellow Bhutanese in Germany. This is also attributed to the fact that we are a country of small population, and it makes us unique in the University. However, for this year’s National day, Bhutanese in Europe had the privilege of celebrating the big day in Brussels, hosted by Royal Bhutan Embassy in Brussels. Being away from home and being without companion from home country, becoming part of such events gives much joy and happiness. It was like home coming. The moments become more special when the event is celebrated in a faraway place. The national identity brought us all together for the common prayers and aspirations. This is the beauty of small Bhutan.
Bhutanese from different countries in EU (2016)

As expressed in many royal addresses, the small Bhutan has lots of opportunities and prospects. Our great monarchs have made our stance today more firm and comfortable. With the gift of democracy to the people, we have now more responsibility in building the nation. From preservation of cultural heritages to conservation natural environment, building the nation’s economy to strengthening the governance with transparency and accountability, our responsibility is huge. However, unlike many other countries which are doomed by wars and political instability, we have all the conditions favourable. We have the resources to build nation’s economy, we have inspiration and guidance of our King to manage the resources sustainably, and most importantly we are a small population with strong sense of unity so nothing is really unachievable with stronger will of the people. With continued effort and dedication from individuals, one day, like the Switzerland, we can be a developed Himalayan state, still embracing happiness with culturally rich and naturally intact heritages.

May the glorious reign of Wangchuck Dynasty flourish forever and may unity of Bhutan be never lost. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Impermanence is the only Truth.

སྲིད་པའི་བདེ་བ་ཟེར་རུང་།། རྩ་རྩེའི་ཟིལ་པ་ཙམ་ཅིག།། 
ཡུན་གཏན་གནས་དབང་མེད་པར།། སྐད་ཅིག་ཙམ་ལུ་ཡལཝ་མས།།

མཛེས་པའི་ཡོན་ཏན་ཟེར་རུང་།། གཡར་གྱི་འཇའ་ཚོན་ཙམ་ཅིག།།
སྣ་ལྔའི་འོད་གདང་ཚང་རུང་།། དངོས་མེད་རང་བཞིན་ཨིན་མས།།

དགའ་མཐུན་གཡས་གཡོན་བསྐོར་རུང།། བདེ་བ་འཁྲུལ་པའི་རྨི་ལམ།།
དམ་ཚིག་ལས་ཀྱི་བྲལ་ཚེ།། སྡུག་བསྔལ་རང་རྐྱང་ཉོ་དགོས།།

རྒྱུ་ལོར་རི་ལས་ཆེ་རུང་།། སྙིང་པོ་ཐལ་བའི་རང་བཞིན།།
མི་ཚེ་རིམ་གྱི་རྫོགས་ཚེ།། ཉོ་བའི་རིན་གོང་མི་ལང་།།

འཁོར་བ་སྙིང་པོ་མེདཔ་ལས།། གཞན་ལ་ཕན་སེནས་བསྐྱེད་དེ།། 
རྙིང་པོ་དམ་པའི་ལྷ་ཆོས།། ཡང་དང་ཡིང་ལས་བསྒྲུབ་གནང་།།

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Autumn Feelings of Larch.









Photo Courtesy: Downloaded from webs.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Academic Journeys: Seeing the Hope!

The world is a vast dictionary with diversity of words and vocabularies. While new words keep evolving, many old ones would have already extinct. We learn the words and numerous words together educate us. Learning would remain a lifelong process and it doesn’t necessarily should happen in a University. Even inmates can learn from their cells and farmers, from the mountains to reveal the geniuses of the shades. However in the materialistic world, a University degree is what counts at the end to claim being educated or learned. On the contrary, learning in the University obliges us more to read and study, and therefore for me, I always feel that I can study and learn better being in a school.
Learning must go on.

No sooner did I completed my Bachelor’s degree and landed a job than I have dreamt of pursuing a further study. Our system restricts us to pursue long-term studies until we complete three years of service and this maintains a long break before we move to the next degree. However, it’s during this gap that we gain more practical experiences and directs us towards more focused path than choosing a field of study blindly. Into the field of nature conservation I was immersed and for cause of nature conservation I should learn. That was my direction and focus. Thus I have sought the advices and inspirations of my mentors in conservation. Unfortunately, we can’t really pursue what we desire owing to financial constraints. To get a degree is not cheap and we have to rely on scholarships to successfully complete the complete the course. And the scholarships don’t come easily and not always offer the course as one desire. Besides hundreds of candidate eye on a single scholarship and it’s competitive. While we should be able to present ourselves in the modest form, we should be luckier.
Looking Ahead!

As English Language Test results are vital documents in applying for scholarships, I obtained my IELTS results in February 2015 readied myself for international applications. Endeavour Scholarship is the most sought after scholarship by the Bhutanese. Studying in Australia not only accomplishes your academic dreams but also makes you richer in terms of monetary gain. Obtaining it would be a real blessing but my luck for it was too feeble. 

I had my first disappointment with the Endeavour Scholarship results in October 2015, which is when I raised my hope for studying in Europe. My aim is to go for my Masters Degrees as early as possible after completing the three years of service. ERASMUS MUNDUS, NUFFIC and DAAD are the leading scholarship providers from Europe. In terms of stipend, ERASMUS and NUFFIC pay you better as DAAD gives € 750.00 only per month. Browsing for the courses offered, Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation (LENC) under DAAD caught my eyes. Than I saw new hopes. 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Overcoming Our Mind

Human mind is strange. It can think in a diversity of ways and take us into realms unknown. While positive thinking can shape you into a beautiful being, negativity can doom us dramatically. In our life, we will have lots of ups and down: we have summers of hope and we will face the winters of despair; we aspire for bed of roses and we encounter the perils of thorns; we swim the stillness of oceans and tides havoc our moves; life is uncertain and uncertainty is what we will have to live with. Whether to complain or exclaim should be determined by oneself by being mindful. Rose and thorn are a single object; either we can complain that roses have thorns or rejoice that thorns borne roses. Similarly water and tides are one and same thing; swimming along the tides or against it makes us determine their differences. 
We all have professional goals and we all aspire to reach higher in the bureaucratic hierarchy. In the dynamic web of ecological systems, there is only one apex carnivore that would regulate the entire biological process. All species are not equal. Same applies to us. All man are not equal in their luck, intelligence and perseverance. Not all of us can become the boss. As we climb up the ladder from early career to mid-career, we will face lots of pressure and unless you feel it, you won't value where you reach later on. For example, I would have remained in chaotic state for lack of designated responsibility and duty but that also offers me with the freedom to do what I wish. Of course I shouldn't be carried away with the negativity that I am left uncared and that I shouldn't lose the hope. There are many people who failed in their early career but became renowned later on. Everybody refers Bill Gates as an inspiring personality when it comes to failure. After dropping out Harvard, Gates didn't seem like a shoe-in for success but has later created the global empire of Microsoft. While success story of this kind would be inevitable, good days will definitely await our ways. 

Love and relationship are crucial in our lives. Creation of Eve for Adam was the noble idea of God so when Gods couldn't bear the existence of being alone, we are subjects to God. Not all love stories are beautiful; not all persons will be with whom they love. Be it a legendary tale of Paris and Helen or the articulated play of Romeo and Juliet, it is difficult to complete the romance in full symphony. Love is lyrical essence, comical in nature and tragic in fate. However it is inevitable and indispensable in life. To get a love where you love somebody truly and getting the same in reciprocal is difficult. It needs compromises and sacrifices. When it comes to marriage, love alone would never be enough: two factors that are requisite would be trustworthiness and faithfulness. Partners should not create a scene behind the mirror just because it is opaque. We should be mindful that mirror is also composed of a transparent crystalline material called glass. We should use love as a driving force to move higher, healthier and stronger. Feel blessed when you meet someone who loves you or when someone agrees on your proposal of love. Don't get yourself compelled into relation for need of wealth, look, religion and family prestige. Know the impermanence of every phenomenon and don't end up wasting years on year. Yet don't lose hope in love. For an instance, if I love a girl, I should be able to except in her worst. After being in relationship, if misunderstandings arise, I should cope up with it and sort out things for betterment than blatantly putting an end to the beautiful moments. Life should have some bitter moments to value the taste of sweetness. To love is to succeed as the proverb goes, "behind every successful man, there is a special woman and vice versa". Our life partners are the integral part of our heart and soul that would should last till the end.
We often lost our mind when we have two things, a good job and a good lover. We forget one important constituent of our lives, our parents and siblings. Since our stepping on the soul of Mother Earth in the form of human from ephemeral zygotes, it's our parents who nurtured and groomed us. They take care of us when we are most susceptible, and build us into beautiful persons with respectable images in the society. Yes, our parents ail and age and our siblings takes their own paths. It's true that ultimately we will have to sustain ourselves with our own job and rear our own family but remembering our parents and siblings, helping them during the needs and keeping connected with them would help us develop good fortunes for ourselves. The circle of karma is invisible but the effect of karmic fate will determine our intuitions.
Remove the negativity and inculcate positivity. Life is beautiful with positive energy. It is the positive energy that can have a lasting impact in overcoming our mind. Live life by choices but we should miss the chances to bring in beautiful changes in our lives.

Rafting is perilous but with unity, rhythmic, and most importantly being mindful of one self, waves and tides, creeks and falls are nothing but factors that make the journey adventurous. So is life. 
(A post of October 15, 2015)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Conservation Journey Part II: Unveiling Facts of Tigers to Myth of Yeti

The three and a half years at JSWNP never let down my vigour to set out in wilderness. One week after my joining the JSWNP family, I had my first experience in wilderness, and there was no looking back. Soon followed the voyage in subtropical forests of JSWNP with tiger biologists and researchers from Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment and the sequel simply followed it.

Well begun is half done.
Often people think that being a forester is lucrative and therefore a greener pasture. Seldom do they ask us about the hardships that we endure while interacting with the wild. While there are traumatic and harrowing records where foresters are being killed by inhumane beings, wildlife themselves pose greater threat to the lives of their saviours. The remote terrains render the treks daring and unforeseeable weather conditions poses greater risks. However for the heart filled with endurance for the cause of conservation, foresters rejoice in pride being conservationist. In adversity, they see the adventure and in monotonous routines, they find the leisure.
The Black Mountains (Jowo Durshing)
I had my own shares of adversities which were indeed prosperity in disguise during my last three and half years in the national park named after the Great Fourth. Within its pristine vegetation lies the sacred Jowo Durshing, the height of which towers to 5000 metres, acclaiming to be the highest peaks in central Bhutan. Such picturesque landscape are not dark as its name Black Mountains suggests but are safe haven for a diversity of wildlife including the charismatic tiger and of course abode of worship for the pre-Buddhist aboriginal settlers, the Monpas.  As such my adventure through the Black Mountains isn’t only mesmerizing but journeying further down to the south in pursuit of catching the Tigers and up north in the remote mountains attempting to reveal the Myths of Yeti makes my days’ worth cherishing.  

  1. Crisscrossing the Sacred Black Mountains:  JSWNP being a conservation jewel in Bhutan owing to its strategic location, each travel offers a wealth of experiences and satisfaction. Besides being only park with record of highest cat species, it also is home to aboriginal Monpas. The myths of Monpas reveal how they crisscrossed the Black Mountains and how their descendants are spread, in the way the Black Mountains linked the different ecozones and conservation landscapes thus enabling biological diversity. As I traversed through the ancient trails to connect hamlets and wandered through the woods and rocks to conserve wildlife, I discovered more of lyrical tunes and comical essence than gruesome squalls. In mountains I discovered the secrets of euphoria and relentlessly I let flowed the epistles of romance like the free dispersal of blooming fragrance. Such were the days in the sacred Black Mountains.
    En route Black Mountains
  2.  Revealing the Facts of Tiger: When the other three protectors, the Dragon, the Garuda and the Snow Lion faded leaving only myths, the tiger brings together myth and reality. Since the time when tigress served Guru Rinpoche in 8th century, tiger has never let the humanity fail despite being hunted, retaliated or domesticated. It is the most sought species by the conservationist and for the beginner like me, becoming a part of team that first counted the tigers of the nation was a wonderful privilege. There were times where camera lost its position, tigers were missed, but never a time our endeavour failed. More strenuous became the task when we attempted to catch tigers to collar the first tiger in the plains of tropical Manas. Unfortunately, tigers missed our traps but never our determinations. We now proudly say Tigers move all the way from tropical plains of Royal Manas NP to alpine mountains of Jigme Dorji NP.
    Like Abominable Snowman
  3. Pursuing the Myths of Yeti: The mystic Bhutan have many folds of mountains steeped in myth and spirituality. In it remain the stories of Yeti, locally known as Migoe.  As a notorious kid, often my mother use to scare me with the myths of Migoe, not knowing I would be a part of Yeti expeditions in remote northern mountains which are uncharted and unexplored landscapes. Indeed I was one among the expedition group from UWICE research fraternity to lead a team to document unique faunal diversity in the previously unexplored mountains in northern border (June 2005-September 2016. Team UWICE always inspired me.  Through the valleys from where the myths of Migoe resonates, we penetrated the darkest of forests and deepest of snows spanning over 20 days in true wilderness, even sustaining on single grains of rice and drops of oil of the ever diminishing ration.  “The Migoe of the mighty Himalayas continues to elude and mystify our mountains.”

Pristine Alpine Landscape

In all, I could only look back in awe, for having expedited the nature in true sense of wilderness. Memories are only to be cherished with utmost satisfaction.   

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Conservation Journey Part I: Life with the Pen in JSWNP.

I started Blogging towards the end of 2010 and it’s my 5th year into blog-sphere. 2011 recorded 106 blog posts marking the highest and in the subsequent years, it decreased drastically. With a university degree in hand, I began my journey into conservation in January 2013 and hardly have I posted anything on the blog. I traveled a lot but least was recorded in my blog. As now take a break from work, I would like to share some of the highlights from my three and half years of working at Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.

My new journey into works began with the fall of crystalline flakes and as I moved further it only glittered more. However, at one point of time, I wasn’t sure whether I was in the right place. In three years, literarily I had to work with three Chiefs and constantly changing your boss is never a sign of healthy working. In my second year, my first boss went on EOL and I was left with a shaky position without any terms of responsibility. Under the Officiating Chief that last for over 8 months, my position was too versatile, conducting field works to attending important meetings and workshops. In my third year, we had our full-fledged Chief after whose joining my work mainly concentrated with WWF project management. My fourth year into service has opened a new door for my academic journey. As such, I thrived under versatility of Chiefs. At times, I faced the deadliest symptoms of career burnouts but I could also embrace some of the best opportunities be it travelling outside or field expeditions. The combination of the two only made my stand bolder and stronger with good accumulation of experiences.

Since blogging is about writing, I would like to share in this part, three writing achievements from my past three and half years of working in JSWNP.  Being the lone Forestry Officer under the chief, lots of paper work has befallen unto me, checking the competency and aptness in me. Yes, I wrote a lot while in JSWNP, from the guiding documents to project proposals, tour diaries to field reports, minutes of meetings to news reports and of course the contribution to mega publications for the department.

  1. Conservation Management Plan for JSWNP (January 2014-December 2018): Park function under the guidance of Conservation Management Plans. It contains all the details about the park including the biological diversity, socio-economic aspects of the park residents, conservation threats, and of course the framework of activities to be conducted in the next five years. Framing of management plan therefore requires all the facts and coherent planning in line with country’s five year plan.  As such the management plans serves as guiding document for the park. The last conservation management plan for JSWNP has expired in 2007. The park management, however realizing the need to update the much awaited document, has secured fund to from WWF to conduct all the necessary field surveys. When I joined JSWNP, a draft copy in its initial stage was laying idle. My Chief handed over the draft to me and entrusted me to complete it. I felt that it was a herculean task especially considering my infancy in professional work. However, I worked on it with my best ability and sought all critical comments from senior professionals and donors alike and referred all relevant documents to produce the third Conservation Management Plan for JSWNP. In 2015, I worked on framing the Park Zoning for JSWNP, which supplements the management plan.
    Monpas performing folklore
  2. Monpas and Their Livelihood in JSWNP: In the last three and half years, I have been a part of many conservation expeditions and coordinated many field works. Field works are really tiresome and hectic but the end results keep us moving. Lots of works were done by our predecessors in the park but least was documented. I felt the need to document and publish what we do so that it would serve as baseline or works won’t be repeated in the future. I have been part of publishing 8 field reports but a report on “Monpas and their Livelihoods in JSWNP” was something which I accomplished with a will. The idea of studying “Monpas and their Livelihoods in JSWNP” struck me in 2013 when I learnt that the 14th Congress of the International Society Ethnobiology (ISE) was to be held in UWICE, Bumthang in June 2014. I had then applied for a presentation on the topic and submitted an abstract to the Board of the Congress, which they selected. In preparing for it, I could document the history, myths and current scenario of the Monpas in JSWNP, which I proudly presented during the conference.
    The DoFPS Publication
  3. Protected Areas of Bhutan: The Department of Forests & Park Services despite being one of the oldest departments didn’t have a publication about it on its own. Under the dynamic leadership of the former Director General, DoFPS have however published two books, i) “Glimpses of Bhutan’s Forest Biodiversity” in 2013 and ii) “Protected Areas of Bhutan” in 2015. The former attempts to capture the rich biodiversity of Bhutan’s forest resources through the lenses of the Bhutanese foresters while the later provides an overview of the protected areas in Bhutan. The later contain a chapter each on all the Protected Areas and the Biological Corridors in Bhutan’s and I had the privilege to write the Chapter for Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. As the book was dedicated to Fourth Druk Gyalpo King Jigme Singye Wangchuck on His Majesty’s 60th Birth Anniversary, I feel very privileged to be the part of publication team.

Therefore as I look back, though not much have been posted on my blog, it appears like I wrote quite something. Now that I have started putting up things on my blog, I would be writing on three best field expeditions, three travels outside, three best workshops and so on in my subsequent posts. I feel that being a student, we can write better. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Academic Journeys: Reminiscing the Road to Bachelor’s Degree.

When I boarded the Bhutan Post bus from Phuentsholing to Calcutta on the afternoon of 27th August 2008, I was beginning a new journey. As my sister after expressing her final words of advices bid adieu, I was to set my feet off the mother land for the first time in my life. As we travelled down in the Indian plains, I not only had the emotional feelings of loneliness but also the jubilation of pride and satisfaction. The bus was indeed filled with youths aspiring to pursue various technical degrees having won the prestigious scholarships after their class 12 exams the last December. The DAHE had then booked the bus for us from Phuentsholing to Calcutta from where we were to obtain the train tickets from a travel agent for boarding in different directions.
Birsa Agricultural University

Being brought up in remote hamlet of Darlo, my maiden journey abroad was a challenging one. Hindi was a language which I understood least and we weren’t going to a college where there are ample Bhutanese seniors but just the two of us. My friend by virtue of being educated in Thimphu was a saviour for me as he could communicate better in Hindi, which was necessary while on board in the train. In an exotic place, we were to catch a cab early in the morning and search for Birsa Agricultural University in Ranchi.
Reminiscing the old harrowing moments then, it gives me a sense of delight now, having overcome one of the hardest challenges a fresher would face in the college. Forestry was a course of my choice and to live the destiny of my choice often made me lament on why I had that choice.
There wasn’t clear information from the University on when we should be reporting and on our arrival, there wasn’t anybody welcoming us despite ourselves reaching the university campus and calling the concerned authority many times. At a point of time, I wondered whether I really received a Scholarship. Alas, we could find our way to the office of Registrar where we introduced ourselves only to be diverted to the Faculty of Forestry. The Dean of Forestry finally called on us and got ourselves registered as International Students in College of Forestry, Birsa Agricultural University. Indeed we were lone International Students in that University. By the time, we were allotted rooms, it was almost 2:00 PM. A long travel by train from Howrah to Ranchi the night before and tireless walking in the mighty university campus with our belonging, my first day in the University taught me a lesson; Life is never a bed of roses. Rather it is adversity en route to prosperity.
Graduating from BAU: August 2008-September 2012.

However, the situation only seemed to deteriorate with delay in commencement of academics by a month and with lots of irregularities in conducting the semester exams and its results. Worst, the two of us became the lone classmates. While we didn’t have any Bhutanese friends nearby, our semesters breaks for going home were dearer with much uncertainties.  Four lengthy years we spent in Birsa Agricultural University and at the end, the troubles that we faced were worth enduring. The bitter sweet days in India has indeed paved our way in the civil service cadre of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The moments became more cherishing when I exited BAU with a University Gold Medal for Academic Excellence.

As a take a new journey today, it only made me contemplative of my past journeys. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

January Journey and Field Forestry.

Because life is a journey I began the first day of my 2016 on a journey. It's supposedly a new chapter in our life but how we want to make it different from the previous chapter is entirely in our hand. For changing the chapter of our life, we need not have to set stringent New Year Resolutions; we need not have to change anything but our objectives. When we set objectives for the new chapter, we have to change the way forward for achieving it and it will happen naturally. 

So as 2016 came, I didn't have any resolutions but I was determined to stay happy and content with what life has to offer. This became the objective of my life for 2016 and probably throughout. Embark new journey on new dawn leaving the pass remorse as mere reverie and life will be beautiful. As such the first ten days of 2016 has turned out to be most satisfying paragraphs for my new chapter. Everything happened coincidentally and each moment was beautiful. 
I was driving towards Wangdue to take a tour to remote hamlets of Rukha on the first. However the 2nd was a Nyilo (Winter Solstice) and for the people of Shar and Wang, it's just like the new year. They celebrate it grand. And this made me climb to the apex of Chari Monastery making offering to the almighty and praying for the wellbeing of sentient beings. One of my nephew was entering into a three year retreat and it was also an occasion to mingle with the fellow countrymen from my village. Short yet a beautiful moment until we meet next time for a better cause. 

I journeyed to Rukha, the last village to be linked with national highway. Rukha is at least 6 hours walk from the nearest road head and I assumed no bureaucrats  would travel their for service delivery. Politician won't travel their least they need the vote. Some philanthropist would have dreamt of turning it into a Vajra Community but they way the people's live there and their socio-economic status is not so good. We the foresters travel there often and this is perhaps my 5th occasion. The villages there have beautiful setting but by virtue being early settlers, they too faced the vice of  sticking to their inherent traditions. They are contended if they have a alcohol to drink. They remained socially backward though the Tarayana and National Park out in interventions for their uplift. The river valley is also home for the Critically Endangered White-bellied Heron.

"Beneath, it's the confluence of beautiful rivers,
Above, it's the hovering of aesthetic clouds,
Around, I can see the serene green of woods,
And from distant, I could hear the euphony of endangered Herons. 
As the rivers get dammed and dreary it appears. 
As the forests become dusty and fire ravages it often,
As the clouds fades into Crimson horizon,
Will I still hear the melancholy of Endangered Herons?

It's in Rukha that for the first time I handled the tree marking hammer. October to March is marking and felling season in our forestry calendar. People assume that tree marking is the work of forest guard and I am not sure whether any of the officials ranked above a Forest Ranger ever went for tree marking. Incidentally it's tree election and marking that requires the sound scientific knowledge and I am not sure whether our frontline foresters have abreast idea of this. Whenever there are trainings it's the Officers who have better affinity with the DFO that would avail it and our foresters hardly get any refreshers course.  I went with a Forester and he was nervous to do the selections. The applicant won't like to travel deeper into the forest for better thinning owing to long distance. And here comes the compromise between sound selection of trees for marking. I could see numerous stumps in few hundred metres from their house. 

Forestry Clearance is the most sought document for any developmental works. There was this proposal for building a bridge over Punatshangchu  to connect the remote villages of Rukha with national highway and they require the forestry clearance. I accompanied the ranger to the exact site to do the inspections and recommendation. Then I realised how people undermine the effort put by the frontline staffs. I have seen cases where the applicants directly approach the DFO or Director Generals office for seeking the approval when the field offices denies, taking advantage of their personal relationships. DFO and for that matter Director General are not aware of the real field circumstances and we need to respect the effort put in by the field offices. Then I realised for sound conservation, we need real educated officers at the field offices. The field Rangers and Foresters requires constant refreshers course for updating their knowledge which they learnt once upon a time in the training institutes. Our politicians shouldn't use their power to marginally win the heart of the people by defaulting with the recommendations of the field offices. 

Life is beautiful with beautiful and thoughtful journeys.