Bhutan in dearth of nature guides
March 27, 2017
Bhutan is regarded as one of the exclusive travel destinations in the world today. Despite its small landmass, Bhutan has incredible abundance of flora and fauna. But the country lacks professional nature guides to provide information about it.
This is attributed to lack of nature guide training institutes in the country.
The 26-year- old Kharka Bdr. Gurung is a trained nature guide. For the last four years, he had been with tourists talking about birds, animals, and plants. He had spent nearly two months at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment in Bumthang to become a nature guide. However, Kharka said one should be consistent enough to update and learn about nature from time to time.
“Just knowing plant’s name and birds’ name is not enough. We should know the habitats too. Training is not enough either, because it’s just the basic they will teach us. We should keep learning new stuff about nature by asking our experts and doing research,” said the Nature Tour Guide, Kharka Bdr. Gurung.
Owing to its challenging profession, nature tour guides earn more than other tour guides. Experts are said nature tour guides get as high as Nu 4000 every day, while on tour. But there is lack of trained nature guides.
Though people get trained at Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment in Bumthang, it is not enough to meet the increasing demand. And that is where experts from outside the guiding business are hired to fulfill the needs of nature lovers visiting the country.
“Lots of tourists now come to see flora and fauna. In fact if you really look at birding, I think last year alone we were told that we have received almost around 2000-3000 tourists who wanted to see birds only. Once the tourists touched down to Paro, they are eager to see nature things,” said the Chairperson of Guide Association of Bhutan, Garab Dorji.
That is why, cultural tour guides said knowing nothing about nature make them awkward when tourists ask them about it.
“I went to Pangbang in Zhemgang with the tourists and they were keener to know about nature such as birding, fishing and flowers. But being a cultural tour guides, I felt awkward since I am not specialized in nature and it was difficult for me to respond to them when they ask me about names of flowers or birds,” said a Cultural Tour Guide, Sithup.
But, come this May and a private institute called Bhutan Institute of Himalayan Studies in Thimphu will provide nature guides training beginning.
Once the training commences, it is highly likely that the shortage of trained nature guides will be addressed. Today, Bhutan has around180 nature.