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Talking Takin

May 23, 2024

Talking Takin

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Alix Cotumaccio Alix Cotumaccio

From tigers and snow leopards to pangolins and langurs, Bhutan is home to some of the most charismatic endangered species on the planet. Surprisingly, the animal that captured my heart on a recent visit was one I had never heard of before—the takin.

Bhutan takin (Budorcas taxicolor whitei), the national animal of Bhutan, are found from forested valleys to rocky, grass-covered alpine zones. This large ungulate is genetically most closely related to sheep, but has physical similarity to muskox (Ovibos moschatus) found in the Arctic. This is due to convergent evolution, which is when organisms that aren’t closely related independently evolve similar features as they adapt to similar environments or selective pressures.

Bhutan, the world’s first carbon-negative country, prioritizes conservation. In fact, ecological sustainability is one of the four pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness philosophy, which guides the government and includes an index that is used to measure the collective happiness and well-being of the Bhutanese population. As part of their conservation efforts, Bhutan’s constitution mandates that at least 60% of its land is preserved under forest cover. Even with these protections, the takin are threatened by overhunting, habitat destruction, and climate change.

, Bhutan Map It


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