I am currently bedridden - with cough and body ache.
Yesterday evening as I was feeling useless lying in bed, my friend from Chhukha – Sangey Thinley, EDO of Chhukha Dzongkhag sent me a WhatsApp message saying that the near-extinct White-bellied Heron has been sighted near the Sewerage Tanks in Babesa. I replied that it could not be – that the bird must be a Grey Heron that I had sighted in the area about 3 years back.
But even as I lolled in the bed, the thought that it could be quite possible that the bird might be a White-bellied Heron, kept nagging at me. I am aware that Babesa is way out of the range of White-bellied Herons – traditionally, the birds live and feed around 600 -1,000 ft. lower than Babesa’s altitude. But the advent of climate change has caused weird things to come to pass – I recall that a pair of Black-necked Cranes was seen in Gelephu, a few years back.
I just had to confirm - so I got out of bed and headed for Babesa. When I reached there, a bunch of birders were already gathered there and were observing the bird. And it was true – the bird was indeed the rare White-bellied Heron.
A fuzzy image of the White-bellied Heron sighted at Babesa, shot with a mobile phone mounted on a scope - yesterday 29:10:2019 at 05:29PM
Please read more about the connection between Bhutan and White-bellied Herons at the following:
Frankly, it is not surprising that the bird is found outside its range. We humans have screwed up our environmental integrity big time and we are not even sorry for it. We keep aggravating the situation even further, even while being fully aware of the consequences of our actions.
Do you want to get off your high horse and consider for a moment the state of Thimphu’s air quality? What do you want to bet that it is at a dangerously harmful level? Do you want to consider the state of the water quality of Wangchu and Paachu? Would you dare wager that it is almost at a toxic level?
The Druk Phuensum Tshokpa party had the balls to ban the import of vehicles few years back – a very bad move – politically. But politics was furthest from their minds – they had the good of the country and the environment in their hearts when they took that very unpopular decision. And the party suffered for it.
Soon after, the People's Democratic Party came to power and reversed the decision. The result was that during their tenure Bhutan came to be ranked as among the highest in the world – in terms of vehicle ownership. The population of vehicles grew to 1 for every 8 Bhutanese, resulting in deteriorating air quality and punishing traffic congestion.
And we still shamelessly declare that we are carbon negative.
I wish people would realize that an improved environment is the only answer – that it is the only way to resuscitate life that is slowly ebbing away, through ignorance and false pride.
The incidences of White-bellied Heron being found in Thimphu and Black-necked Cranes in Gelephu are indications of the imminent madness that will consume humanity. We human beings need to reorient our thinking or we will richly deserve the coming catastrophe that is looming large before us.