Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP)

In 2008, WCP was formally designated as the 10th national park to pay tribute to Wangchuck Dynasty for selflessly leading Bhutan for 100 years. Located ideally within the rich Himalayan ecosystem, WCP is not only the largest national park in the country with area coverage of 4919 Km2 but with its inclusion, Bhutan's protected area system now stands at 51.32% i.e. more than half of Bhutan.
 
WCP represents one of the best examples of the middle Himalayan ecological biomes ranging from blue pine to alpine meadows. It snows at higher altitudes spreading over the jurisdiction of 5 districts- Gasa, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang and Lhuentse Dzongkhags.
 
Surveys conducted in the park revealed that 244 species of vascular plants, 23 species of large mammals and 134 species of birds are present. The park harbors several charismatic wildlife species such as Snow leopard (Uncia uncia), Takin (Budorcas taxicolor whitei), Common leopard (panthera pardus) and Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus laniger). The Tibetan wolf (Canis lupus chanco) confirmed  in WCP is not reported elsewhere in Bhutan.

The major conservational draw to the park is that it feeds four major rivers of Bhutan namely Punatshangchu (Sunkosh), Mangdechu, Chamkarchu and Kurichu (tributaries of Manas). Permanent snow covered mountains such as Gangkar Puensum, Rinchen Zoegila and Jazayla are located in the park.
 
Being the water towers for major river systems, glaciers are found in abundance in WCP. Currently these glaciers are facing threats of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF); Thorthormi and Raphsthreng lakes are fast melting imposing huge risk of GLOFs. In 1994, one of its lakes, Lugge Lake, succumbed to a GLOF wreaking havoc downstream.

Like other parks, WCP also faces huge human wildlife conflicts. Inhabitants of WCP still practice the culture of shifting settlement during the year, thus creating a large depreciation on the natural resources.

WCP is the only park in Bhutan that WWF  co-manages with government. The co-managment began since its inception in 2008
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Wangchuk Centennial Park / ©: WWF Bhutan
wwf bhutan/Wangchuk Centennial Park
© WWF Bhutan