Motithang Takin Preserve

The Motithang Takin Preserve, on the outskirts of Thimphu Valley, is one of Bhutan’s protected areas. Motithang is dedicated to the conservation of Bhutan’s national animal, the takin. The location is surrounded by a dense forest of alpine trees, which provide a spectacular view of the snow-capped peaks on a clear day.

According to legend, Drukpa Kunley, a Bhutanese yogi and poet renowned as “the Divine Madman” for abandoning the monastic life of a monk in favour of a more cheerful and enjoyable way of life created the unique animal called Takin by grafting the head of a goat onto the body of a cow in the 15th century.

When people questioned him about his extraordinary abilities, Drukpa Kinley took a bullock’s bones and feet and a goat’s head and skin, placed the head on top of the bones, wrapped the skin around the bones, breathed life into the animal. The takin, which is half goat and half bullock, was the animal he created. After then, the animal was given the name “Dong Gyem Tsey” – Takin. Due to its significance with Bhutanese religious history and mythology, the takin was proclaimed the country’s national animal on November 25, 2005.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the takin as vulnerable. There are barely a few thousand of these creatures left in the wild, according to some estimates. The ones in Thimphu Zoo, which were transported down from the highlands in 1974, are doing quite well. The animal has grown in popularity as a tourist attraction.  The magnificent creatures can now graze freely in their protected, forested habitat without fear of being hunted down for their meat and horns by smugglers involved in the illicit wildlife trade.

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