Bhutan is at the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, which supplies one-third of the world’s freshwater. And the country’s forests help keep climate change at bay by absorbing carbon dioxide. Bhutan is one of the world’s 10 most biodiverse countries. But Bhutan’s natural resources are on the brink of being more threatened now than ever before, despite the government’s political will and conservation milestones. Why? The country has changed more in the last 50 years than the past 500 years combined.
In October 2012, WWF began a four-year project to conserve snow leopard habitat, promote water security, and help communities prepare for climate change impacts in Central Asia. The USAID-funded, $4.7-million Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountain Landscapes and Communities project will conduct field activities in and build alliances among six of the snow leopard’s 12 range countries: Bhutan, India, Nepal, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan. The project will run through September 30, 2016.
A July 2012 camera trap study in Nepal identified 37 individual tigers—a marked increase from 18 tigers counted in 2009. The tigers were monitored over a three-month period inside Bardia National Park in Nepal and the Khata wildlife corridor in the Terai Arc Landscape.
The most basic needs—for both humans and animals—are food, water and shelter. When basic needs are threatened, conflicts arise. In the high mountains of Asia, WWF seeks to reduce human-wildlife conflict through projects like the USAID-funded Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountain Landscapes and Communities.
Climate change is causing many Eastern Himalayan glaciers to melt faster than ever observed and in the process they leave behind pools of water that form glacial lakes. Weak walls of earth and rock contain the water but can burst suddenly, resulting in massive flooding downstream that is catastrophic for local communities.