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Bhutan’s tigers doing well

Bhutan continues to show great promise for the endangered Bengal tiger. Ongoing conservation and protection works by the government of Bhutan and conservation partners, and the general abundance of a myriad prey species within large contiguous habitat allow for Bhutan’s mountain tigers to thrive. According to biologists from the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE), the female tiger in the image below was last seen with two grown cubs. Last year she was seen with two new cubs.

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Without a doubt, Bhutan harbors a largely connected source population of tigers across the whole country. Tigers have been photographed in alpine regions, making Bhutan the only place on earth where leopards, snow leopards and tigers can occur in the same area. Bhutan, with 9 confirmed cat species (including all 4 Asian Big Cats – clouded leopard, leopard, snow leopard and tiger), and a possible 10th species, is an immensely important country for feline conservation. The Bhutan Foundation has been supporting UWICE in its tiger research, and the Jigme Dorji National Park in its snow leopard conservation program.

Spotlight on Public Health Faculty Member: Ms. Phuntsho Choden

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Phuntsho Choden is the fifth faculty member from Bhutan’s Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS) to spend a semester at the Yale School of Public Health as a postgraduate fellow. With the goal of improving teaching and learning practices in Bhutan, she is taking courses in epidemiology, community health program evaluation, and global health research. Ms. Choden, who earned her Masters in Public Health from Thailand, observed very different approaches to teaching practices of epidemiology between her experiences in Thailand and at Yale. Just seven faculty members lead the RIHS public health programs, and Ms. Choden says that Yale’s partnership has strengthened the program quickly.

Ms. Choden’s prior research includes work on mortality surveillance, burn injuries, and low back pain as a result of occupational injuries. Upon her return to Bhutan, she plans to study the relationship between alcohol and driving as well as alcohol and gender violence. She anticipates that the RIHS public health program will also study its own impact now that over 50 practitioners have graduated from RIHS and have been placed in basic health units in 20 districts throughout Bhutan.

Through the Lens of a Camera

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In partnership with the Bhutan Center for Media and Democracy (BCMD), Fredric Roberts Photography, and Bhutan Airlines, we invited 20 youth to participate in the week-long intensive photojournalism workshop held in Thimphu, Bhutan. Ten of the students were recruited from rural areas of Bhutan and ten from urban areas through BCMD’s media clubs, which are established across the country. In addition, 20 students from a beginner’s workshop, conducted last year by Fredric Roberts Photography, also attended a three day advanced workshop. Out of 20, four of the students were selected as teaching assistants for the new beginner’s course. The beginner’s workshop started on January 8th and since then, the students have been chasing light to tell their stories through the lens of their camera.

On the first day of the workshop, the students were divided in 4 groups with a professional faculty from Fredric Roberts Photography as mentors and teachers. Throughout the week, the students were taught different techniques of photography. The stories that the students photographed were about development of local products, stories of nuns that were being supported by the Bhutan Nuns Foundation, improved health care due to Emergency Medical Services and stories of individuals with disabilities.

The workshop will conclude with a graduation ceremony for the students where they will be awarded a certificate and the students’ best pictures from the week out of a total of 40,000 pictures taken will be showcased in an exhibition to the public. Local policy makers, local civil society organizations, friends and families of the participants will attend the event.