Let’s slip out of science for bit and tell you how the legend of the Takin is narrated in Bhutan.
They say that one day, the Divine Madman, a Wise and Crazy saint known as Lama Drukpa Kunley was asked to perform a miracle by the local villagers. He told them to first bring him a cow and a goat to eat.
The villagers, a bit confused, prepared the roasted cow and the goat and presented it to the Divine Madman who immediately devoured both of them in ten minutes. There was nothing left but the cleaned bones.
The madman then took the head of the goat, attached it to the skeleton of the cow, clapped his hands and, to the surprise of the whole village, the skeleton grew a full body, jumped up and ran into the meadow and began feeding.
So the Takin was born. On my short trip to Bhutan in 2013, I had the privilege of going to the reserve just on the outskirts of Thimpu where these Goat-like creatures luxuriate.
They truly do look like goats with a cow’s body.
There are three sub-species of this animal called the Gnu Goat or the Cattle Chamois. They are part of the family Bovidae(goats and sheep) and belong to the order of even-toed ungulates.
It is also said that immediately after the Takin was created by the divine Madman, he exhorted the animal to flee to the highlands away from the humans because we would certainly hurt it. Prescient was the saint, this animal is indeed threatened throughout it’s range, in spite of being the National Animal of Bhutan.
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