Lhendup Tharchen
Attending Forest fire fighting
2023

Lhendup Tharchen

Forest Manager

a mountain legacy

meet lhendup

Lhendup Tharchen is a wildlife biologist, forest manager, and the first Oxbridge-trained conservation leader in Bhutan. His exploration interests coincide with his extensive experience with big cats, protected area management, species conservation, human–wildlife conflict management, natural resource management, community development, and climate change issues. Tharchen has worked with tigers in the lowlands of Royal Manas National Park and snow leopards in the highlands of Jigme Dorji National Park. He is the first person to track both snow leopards and common leopards locally using GPS satellite telemetry and distinctively managed both the national park and forest management units outside protected areas.

 

a mountain legacy
Nominated by: Matthew DeSantis MI'16
Class of 2023 Location Bhutan
Tracking snow leopards
Tracking snow leopards

As I travel widely in the Bhutan forest, I have come across many communities sharing the same space with wild animals. While it is heartening to learn about the presence of tigers, leopards, elephants, and wild pigs, I was disturbed learning about the realities of living in proximity to the forestland, livelihoods jeopardized by the impact of wildlife damage on cattle and crops. Feeling the need to bridge the disconnects of conservation and livelihood, I have worked diligently toward developing informed policies, contributing to the development of a national human–wildlife conflict management strategy and playing a pivotal role in developing conservation action plans for the tigers and snow leopards.

“[The Jomohari Mountain Festival] ignited the moral responsibility of humans for biodiversity conservation and environmental protection, encouraging people to take leadership to respect and protect nature and wildlife in their communities.”

- Lhendup Tharchen

I believe that snow leopards are the guardians of the mountains. Recognizing communities as a part of the mountain ecosystem, I cofounded the annual Jomolhari Mountain Festival, known as the “snow leopard festival,” to simply celebrate life in the mountains. This initiative attracted international visitors, improving the vitality of the highlanders through ecotourism. The community-based snow leopard conservation group has become the custodian of the mountains and their ecosystem, the community of the festival itself, motivating people in other parts of the country to replicate similar nature-based festivals. Such events have ignited the moral responsibility of humans for biodiversity conservation and environmental protection, encouraging people to take leadership to respect and protect nature and wildlife in their communities.

Coming from a farming family, it has been extremely rewarding for me to be able to contribute toward conservation, and, at the same time, to be able to make a difference in the lives of people, which has given me a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life and a desire to do more.

 

Time with the people sharing tiger habitat at Zangbi in Zhemgang.
Time with the people sharing tiger habitat at Zangbi in Zhemgang.

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