New orchid discovered

The entry of new record of Orchid species encountered in Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary has made Bhutan richer by one more plant species

The new Orchid belongs to the species Bulbophyllum. The Orchid plant was discovered by a seven-member team which includes two visiting scientists Stig Dalstrom and Thomas Hoeijer, representatives from Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), National biodiversity Centre (NBC) and Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD).

Stig Dalstrom is a botanical illustrator, an experienced orchid taxonomist while Thomas Hoeijer works at The Bergius Botanical garden, Stockholm. His interest is in tropical plants with a focus on orchids and aroids.

Ngawang Gyeltshen of the biodiversity section of WCD said the Orchid was sighted in the warm broadleaved forests inside the designated orchid trail. The location in which the new sighting was made is also part of Jonkhar Community Forests.

“We could instantly determine in the field itself that it was a new record,” Ngawang Gyeltshen said adding that it was done with the two experts in the team.

However the team could only determine the genera of the orchid as Bulbophyllum. Due to lack of such data, the distribution of this particular orchid in the world is unknown. Further expert determination would be required to pinpoint the species of the new orchid.

Chief Forestry Officer of WCD, Sonam Wangchuk said that there are many opportunities for recording of new species of both flora and fauna species in the country. “Bhutan still remains largely unexplored and those areas especially inaccessible to human are yet to be explored for high significance biodiversity,” He said. “WCD will place strong focus in 11th FYP in new species documentation.”

The orchid survey in SWS was carried out beginning May 23 this year basically as part of Biodiversity inventory for enhancing orchid conservation in the sanctuary. The park so far has recorded 55 species of Orchids prevalent in their jurisdiction. It increased to 68 species with addition of 13 more species from the orchid exploration survey.

The team used existing foot trail as transect line without defined interval along the altitudinal gradient. Field data were collected using Trimble Juno SC handled GPS using data dictionary with basic information of the site and the species.

The same orchid survey team also accompanied the Biological Corridor team and trekked from Nahi in Wangduephodrang till Dochula in Thimphu. Live samples and herbarium of the undetermined species during the exploration was collected to grow in Royal Botanical garden and National Herbarium at Serbithang for identification and preservation.

Bhutan has recorded approximately 370 species of Orchid excluding the one recently documented by the team.

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