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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.”
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.