Monday, November 20, 2023

The Edifice of Disgrace

As a Khengpa (a person belonging to the Kheng region of Central Bhutan) I cannot help but feel a sense of affinity towards anything even remotely related to Kheng. Thus, when it was announced that the Bhutan Bird Festival would be held once again - after having been suspended for the past three years due to COVID-19 pandemic, I decided that I want to attend the festival - if for nothing, at least to add to the number. Even better, my two American guests also agreed to attend the festival - all three days - from 13th to 15th November, 2023.

First thing upon arrival at Tingtibi on the evening of 12th November, 2023, I headed straight for the festival grounds - to check things out. I did not get past the Welcome Gate - one look at the Gate and I was dumbstruck - my heart sank and I remained rooted to the ground where I stood - incredulous at what I saw plastered all over the Gate.

There were a total of 10 images of different birds and animals depicted on the vertical and horizontal posts and beam of the Gate. To my absolute horror, 5 of the images – or 50% of the total images portrayed - were images of birds and animals that are TOTALLY NON-EXISTANT in the country - let alone Zhemgang District!!!

How is it that any sane person can be capable of such incredibly shoddy work - particularly among people who pride themselves as sane and with eyes wide open? I mean such atrocious blunders can be attributed to mindless zombies - not to educated people with weighty responsibilities. I cannot believe that the whole of Zhemgang Dzongkhag does not have people who can differentiate an African Elephant from that of an Asian one; a Pallas’s Fish Eagle from that of the Bald Eagle; A Black-necked Crane from that of a Red-headed Crane? Where were the Forestry officials in the Dzongkhag? It is fantastic that they do not know the commonest of the most common of the country’s birds and animals.

Waste of precious time notwithstanding, it was so shameful - even worst, it was soooooo telling on the Bhutanese character - clueless and yet adamantly moronic; unwilling to put one’s best foot forward, and yet vehement that rest of the world is steeped in mediocrity!

One has to wonder: Will the Bhutanese people ever improve?


  1. Wai Khenpa! Don't watch ur dirty cloth in public. Write a complain note to the RSNP & MOA with copy to Dasho Dzongdha & Trizin of ZLocal Govt. for corrigendum & future record.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I take it positively and it is a good lesson for the next festival. Bird festival is organized by Dzongkhag administration and Divisional Forest Office has no authority to dictate their job.

  3. I agree with you la. This happens when the event is organized by the wrong agency (Dzongkhag) and non-bird experts feel that they know every thing. Zhemgang Forest if not engaged in this design

  4. Wai olo...hope your blog gets blasting visitors. But for your information, it was not a gate festival. If you had willingness, you must have contributed before event. Most of khengpas just know how to comment but they don't want to contribute or work. Ask your Gewog leaders what did they do for BBF 2023...

  5. Dear Mr. Yeshey Dorji,

    At the outset let me thank you and your guests for gracing the recently concluded Bhutan Bird Festival. We were privileged to have your presence and it’ll surely have a positive impact on the Dzongkhag and its economy. We did meet, albeit briefly, at the Berti WBH Ecocamp and if your American guests were the two wonderful ladies from Boston, I met them also on the festival grounds. In my interaction with them, I was delighted to know their happiness with the visit and stay at the cabins (only complaint being a small issue with the door lock).

    Apropos your article/blog that was shared with me by a few friends, thank you for sharing your observations. As it is, the festival is “Bhutan” and not “Zhemgang” bird festival and a modest bid to promote conservation of birds as well as animals worldwide. This is not even an attempt to defend ourselves and I wish you had given the feedback in person as then a good discussion would have ensued. I assure you that we’re neither insane nor mindless and your feedback is well noted and will help improve future editions of the festival.

    Notwithstanding the dampening effect the gate had on your mood, there must’ve been a few things that were pleasant as well. You write well and I hope to read a sane and mindful article on the positive aspects of the festival, if any, very soon. The organising team will always be happy to collaborate meaningfully with you and other passionate Khengpas and birders alike in the near future.

    Warmest regards,
    Kesang Jigme
    BBF Organising Committee

    1. Dear Dasho,

      Thank you for your riposte to my blog post on the recently concluded 3rd bird festival held in Zhemgang. I am honored that Dasho found it expedient to do so – I am humbled by your modesty – I congratulate you on this most admirable social grace. Thank You.

      I would like to put on record that I will always be there for any worthy cause to which I may be called upon to contribute – to the betterment of Zhemgang Dzongkhag and the Khengpa people. It is my misfortune that the organizing committee of the 3rd bird festival did not find any role for me to play – I would have been greatly honored to have been able to contribute, as I did during the 2nd bird festival held in 2019.

      What came to pass is as good as water under the bridge and I believe that there is no benefit to be derived by racking up past issues. What is good is that something positive has emerged from out of this - we can now look to the future with hope and in a spirit of collaboration and corporation.

      May I assure Dasho that those of us in the Bhutanese birding community are forever ready to be of service to your administration in your future endeavors. In fact, I am given to understand that the Bhutan Birdlife Society (BBLS) of which I am a Member, had offered to assist your organizing team but was told that they were self-sufficient and had politely declined their offer of help.

      Thanking you, I remain,

      Most Cordially,

      Yeshey Dorji

  6. Reading some of the comments here, it’s quite interesting to note some cheap comments made by amusing commentators while some have positive and more logical comments. However, the writer has brought out a pertinent issue and we are very hopeful that we will experience a better Bhutan Bird Festival in the coming year. I feel the issue of BBF can be solved not by politicizing but rather by sensitizing la.