February 2018
Field notes from our Executive Director

On a blistery winter morning earlier this month, Her Majesty Gyalyum Tseyring Pem Wangchuck, co-chair of the Bhutan Foundation, kindly summoned me to join her for breakfast at her palace in upper Motithang. Over a steaming bowl of traditional porridge and a medley of a traditional Bhutanese breakfast, I submitted an update on the progress of the Foundation. I presented an overview of how the Foundation was making an impact in key areas, such as emergency medicine, special education, biodiversity conservation, and cultural preservation. Of course, all this was not news to Her Majesty, who was abreast of all programmatic developments. More significantly, I impressed upon Her Majesty how the Foundation has grown in terms of our revenue and programs while we have remained a small team between our two offices in Thimphu and Washington, DC. The highlight of that morning for me was when Her Majesty expressed her satisfaction at how the Foundation has come this far. For this, I have our board, advisory council members, donors, partners, and staff to thank -- all under the patronage and leadership of Her Majesty.
One of the key projects Her Majesty has been personally spearheading is the restoration and adaptive re-use of the Wangduechhoeling Palace, executed by the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. The project has the distinction of being a true conservation project whereby our aim is to maintain the original architectural details. We are endeavoring to convert this beautiful heritage site into a museum and a public space that will be of immense value for present and future generations. I can envision the rich and important history of the times of the first and second kings play out in the King's chambers; the legacy of Bhutan's own treasure revealer, Pema Lingpa, fill the galleries; and living exhibits of Bumthang valley's unique textiles and cuisine enliven the surroundings. In creating a palace of the past, this project is also enriching the present.
Traditional master carpenters, new aspiring ones, and other artisans are getting trained in true conservation and restoration of heritage sites. The unique blue mineral paint of the window shutters calls for the training of a group of Bhutanese painters to revive this skill so that other similar projects can benefit from their expertise in the future. These are just some examples where the Bhutan Foundation, through our projects, contributes toward building local capacity in such specialized fields. While the existing works have been funded by the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation and the Bhutan Foundation, we look forward to the Royal Government joining in to restore the Central Tower (Utse), thus making this a truly collaborative project.
On another light, we have some exciting news from the field this week as Dr. Tshering Tempa and his team from the National Tiger Center radio-collars a tiger for the first time in Bhutan. The National Tiger Center (NTC) based in Gelephu (Southern Bhutan) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests successfully radio-collared a three-year-old female tiger on February 9, 2018, in Royal Manas National Park (RMNP). Numerous attempts were made over the last three years, and finally, a team including Dr. Tshering Tempa, officials from NTC, forest officials from RMNP, Nature Conservation Division (NCD), and the Sarpang Division were able to snare this tiger. This GPS collar is crucial, as it will help us understand tiger movement patterns, identify key corridors, monitor their status, and mitigate human-tiger conflicts. The Bhutan Foundation is excited to support this initiative, as Bhutan's tiger research continues to grow our understanding of this majestic creature.
As the new Year of the Earth Male Dog begins, I look forward to sharing with you more exciting stories from the field as we carry forward our mission. As always, we remain ever grateful for your unwavering support.
Losar Tashi Delek!

Best wishes,

Tshewang Wangchuk
Executive Director 


Bhutan Foundation (Washington, DC)
21 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 755
Washington, DC 20036
+1 (202) 609 7363 
Bhutan Foundation (Thimphu)
Nazhoen Pelri, Post Box 1918
Thimphu, Bhutan
+975 (2) 322751