Talkin’ Takin

Takin care

Takin, reindeer, yak calf, takin calf, sheep’s head, donkey, deer, drey daza, goat, sheep, lamb face, blue sheep, foal, cow calf, shaw, black foal, jatsham, mitun, thra –bum.

The last Big Picture contest generated a rich variety of answers, including the right one, takin calf. “Karma S.” is our winner.

The takin mother and calf was photographed in the Motithang Takin Preserve, a 20-acre sprawling blue-pine forest that was established in the early 1970’s to accommodate a pair of young takins that was gifted to Bhutan during the coronation of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

The two takin thrived. And at one time, as many as 16 offspring lived together in the Motithang preserve. But five generations of inbreeding has reduced their current numbers to seven. Still, tourists and locals alike continue to flock to Motithang, to view Bhutan’s national animal, the curious and much loved dong gyem tsey, widely believed to be Lama Drukpa Kinley’s handiwork.

The Nature Conservation Division have recently taken over the Motithang preserve, and have already started expanding and improving the facility. And to improve the takin stock, they’ve started introducing a few takins from the wild.

First two female takins, both already pregnant, were introduced to the preserve. Both of them have given birth to healthy calves. Then two more calves, a male and a female, both abandoned by their herd, were bought in. And finally, just last week, an adult male takin was added.

All of them were caught along the Mochu’s lower valley, at Khauza, which are the takin’s winter grazing grounds. But the Bhutan Takin (B. taxicolor whitei) can be found in most parts of northern Bhutan – from Haa in the west, through the Jigme Dorji National Park to Bumthang in Central Bhutan. Experts suspect that they can also be found in the east.

For those of us who live in Thimphu, the easiest place to see takins, if we’re very lucky, is above Phajoding or in the Dodena forests.

Or we could simply visit the Motithang Takin Preserve.