The Kingdom of Bhutan is situated on the southern slopes of the Eastern Himalayas, covering an area of 40,076 sq. km and spanning various climatic zones, from subtropical to alpine and arctic. Southern Bhutan lies at an altitude of about 200 metres (above sea level), rising to an altitude of 7,500 metres in the north where it constitutes a part of the Great Himalayan Range. The country is renowned as one of the Eastern Himalayan hotspots of biodiversity. Its environment has remained largely intact, in contrast to the major degradation which has already severely affected other areas within the Hindu Kush—Himalaya—Karakoram region. In 1996 Bhutan had a per capita income of US$478, which places it among the least developed countries in the world. It has a Five Year Plan economy which enables those who administer the country’s protected areas to develop nature conservation and sustainable protection issues as a strategic development policy Bhutan consists mostly of forest, which covers 72.5 per cent of the land area, whereas arable land under cultivation makes up only 7.8 per cent.
The vast majority of the Bhutanese population of 640,000 are Vajrayana Buddhists. Buddhist values emphasize a respectful attitude towards all living beings and their protection. Despite this prevailing cultural attitude, hunting and poaching still occur in some remote parts of the country even in protected areas. The Buddhist monarchy was established in its present form in 1907, when the first hereditary king, Ugyen Wangchuck, was elected. The monarchy is held in high esteem by the population and has, together with the monasteries, an all-pervasive influence in Bhutanese society. The position of the monarchy in Bhutan allows the central administration to enact an effective nature conservation policy, which is highly appreciated by the foreign donor countries. However, no official research has so far been undertaken concerning the perception and attitude of