Black Mountains National Park (Jigme Singye Wangch)


Mountainous 540-square-mile (1,400-km2) Black Mountains National Park (recently renamed Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park) has many of the same species as Royal Manas, especially— since the whole reserve is at 4,900–16,000 feet (1,500–4,925 m)—those tolerant of higher elevations: serow—shaggy, hardy little goat-antelopes; musk deer—whose glandular secretions used in perfume can bring more by weight than gold, inoffensive-looking except for sharp tusks; Himalayan black bears; red pandas; wild boars; sambar and Indian muntjac or barking deer; golden leaf langur monkeys; and occasional tigers.

Access and visitor facilities have been minimal, but a small guesthouse is sometimes available.

In the beautiful pristine Phobjikha Valley adjoining Black Mountains’ northern boundary is the Phobjikha Conservation Area, home from late-October to late-February of rare black-necked cranes getting away from harsh winters on the Tibetan Plateau—home also, since 1613, of theGantey Monastery, largest Nyingmapa Monastery in Bhutan. A nature study center established with help from WWF is at the valley’s southern end at Khebethang. Several small guesthouses are sometimes available.


 Clouded leopards, named for cloud-like spots that provide camouflage in their forest habitat, are (even this young one) arboreal specialists of the cat family. With short, stout legs and low centers of gravity, thick, furry tails the length of their bodies for balance, and flexible back ankle joints that allow hind feet to rotate so they can descend head-first, like squirrels, they can crawl along horizontal branches with backs to the ground, like sloths, or dangle from hind legs only. They often drop on victims from overhead, preying on smaller mammals—deer and wild pigs—as well as birds.

Clouded leopards, named for cloud-like spots that provide camouflage in their forest habitat, are (even this young one) arboreal specialists of the cat family. With short, stout legs and low centers of gravity, thick, furry tails the length of their bodies for balance, and flexible back ankle joints that allow hind feet to rotate so they can descend head-first, like squirrels, they can crawl along horizontal branches with backs to the ground, like sloths, or dangle from hind legs only. They often drop on victims from overhead, preying on smaller mammals—deer and wild pigs—as well as birds.

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