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Zhemgang comes to life with the revival of bird festival

Back again: Three years after it was first introduced, the Bhutan Bird Festival is being held in Tingtibi, Zhemgang, which is home to more than 500 species of birds

November 11, 2019 

The usually quiet town of Tingtibi in Zhemgang is abuzz.

The feathered friends, which are found in abundance in this locality, is the reason for bringing this town to life.

Three years after it was first introduced, the Bhutan Bird Festival (BBF) is here again in all its glory and might. The event is organised to commemorate the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

A dzongkhag that has managed to cohabit harmoniously with nature so far has a spectacle of events on indigenous food, drinks, sports and adventure among others, planned over the next three days.

As a build-up to the main event, birdathon, a birding expedition began three days ago where more than 30 national birders are engaged in sighting the bird species found in the area.

Zhemgang dzongkhag is home to more than 500 species of birds and the festival is being held at Tingtibi, which is an area much sought after by bird watchers from across the world.

  All Set: Zhemgang is ready to host the three-day festival
All Set: Zhemgang is ready to host the three-day festival

The place is also home to the critically endangered white-bellied heron and houses all the four species of hornbill – Great Hornbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill and the Pied Hornbill. Beautiful Nuthatch is also occasionally sighted in the upper regions of the dzongkhag.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering will grace the main event today.

Some of the events include an 85kms cycling race from Tingtibi, display of various indigenous food stalls, a river rafting session organised by the river guides of Panbang along Mangdechhu (from Berti to Tingtibi).

Member secretary with BBF, Thinley Jamtsho, who is the dzongkhag’s planning officer, said that the event is organised to pay tribute to His Majesty The Fourth King for His Majesty’s visionary leadership to conservation in Bhutan.

“The event is also to promote community-based ecotourism and to provide opportunities for the local people to participate in the festival and enhance their income,” he said.

Thinley Jamtsho said that bird watching and rafting are the two unique tourist attractions in the dzongkhag and the event was an opportunity to showcase it.

Zhemgang dzongrab, Kinzang Dorjee, said that given the rich flora and fauna found in the dzongkhag, the event is organised to boost eco-tourism in the dzongkhag.

“It is also an opportunity for the people of Tingtibi to generate income as most of the time the town remains deserted without any activities,” he said. “We are also targeting to attract domestic tourists through the display of various local cuisines and at the same time provide them with an opportunity to explore the rich wilderness of Zhemgang.”

Meanwhile, a participant, Karma Dema from Bobsel in Goshing gewog is excited to let the Prime Minister taste her local yams. “It is a delicacy we savour. I want Lyonchhen to taste what we have been eating for generations.”

She said that the festival is an opportunity for the locals to show the rest of the country and also some of the international guests about their age-old traditions and culture.

A resident, Kinzang, said that it is rare to have several dignitaries visit the area and it provided them with an opportunity to show their hospitality. “It is a different and pleasing experience to have so many new faces walk the streets that remain empty all most all the time.”


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