Area: 3,763 sq km; 1,453 sq miles.
Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP) was officially designated as Bhutan’s 10th national park in 2008 in honor of the Wangchuck Dynasty’s 100 years of selfless leadership. As the largest national park in the country, covering an area of 4919 square kilometers, its inclusion raises Bhutan’s protected area system to 51.32% of the nation’s land.
Located in the rich Himalayan ecosystem, WCP represents a prime example of middle Himalayan ecological biomes, ranging from blue pine to alpine meadows and spreading across five districts: Gasa, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang, and Lhuentse Dzongkhags.
Surveys conducted in the park have revealed the presence of 244 species of vascular plants, 23 species of large mammals, and 134 species of birds. Some of the park’s charismatic wildlife species include the Snow Leopard, Takin, Common Leopard, and Himalayan Black Bear, with the Tibetan Wolf also confirmed to reside in WCP.
WCP is of great conservational importance as it feeds four major rivers in Bhutan: Punatshangchu (Sunkosh), Mangdechu, Chamkarchu, and Kurichu (tributaries of Manas). The park also contains permanent snow-covered mountains such as Gangkar Puensum, Rinchen Zoegila, and Jazayla, as well as numerous glaciers, which are the water towers for these river systems. However, these glaciers are facing the threat of glacial lake outburst floods, with Thorthormi and Raphsthreng lakes rapidly melting and posing a significant risk of GLOFs. In 1994, the Lugge Lake succumbed to a GLOF, causing widespread destruction downstream.