Bhutan Takin preserve officials said this was the highest number of births in nine years. Six-year-old Kinzang Lham did not turn up for break fast nor did she stick around with the rest of her herd. Her guardian, Kuenzang Gyeltshen was worried. He took a friend to look for Kinzang Lham, spotted her at a distance and watched her closely as she strode along the stream.
Judging by her motions, the caretaker was delighted. In another two hours, Kinzang Lham, a name given to a female Takin at the Motithang park on the way to Sangaygang, delivered a calf on February 21. Bhutan Takin preserve manager Kuenzang Gyeltshen said it was a healthy calf born at 8am. “When the females are about to deliver they remain aloof and become nervous,” he said.
The following day, Tenzin Dema, 6, and Chungkula, 42-month-old, gave birth to the last two calves. “It’s the highest number of births in nine years,” the manager said. “Last year, there were only two, including one also born on February 21.” Kinzang and Tenzin were brought in 2010 with a Takin bull, Samdrup from Jigme Dorji National Park in Gasa. Forest officials brought them in to improve the breed and restock the preserve, for the first time, as it had only six of the animal then.
The resident Takins had become vulnerable to diseases as they degenerated genetically from inbreeding. The national park in Gasa recorded 164 Takins last year. With the six newborns, there are now 22 Takins in the preserve. Of the 16 adults, eight are female. The manager said Samdrup, 10, was the father of all six calves as he is the most dominant bull of the herd. Takin calving season begins in February and ends in March. A takin has a life span of 12-15-years. Females start breeding from two and a half years.
Meanwhile, caretakers said the calves were growing healthy by the day. “If they’re not healthy or are going to die the mother abandons them after giving birth,” Kuenzang Gyeltshen said. “All of them are feeding well.” He said physical verification of the animals was difficult because they were wild. “We only know the sexes of two calves, both female,” he said. “Going near them for a closer look is risky as the mothers are very protective.”
The preserve established in 1975 also shelters 14 Sambars, two barking deer and a gorel, some of them rescued. The preserve has a minimum of 30 to 40 visitors, including tourists, every day, which increases on weekends.