Ensuring safer habitat for Cranes
Although Bhutan has been witnessing an increasing trend of Black-Necked Cranes wintering annually, the endangered species faces wide array of threats that lead to habitat degradation owing to draining and construction in the wetlands.
Close to 500 numbers of cranes winters every year in Bhutan, Phobjikha being the major habitat followed by Bumdeling, Khotokha, Gyetsha, and Thangbi.
Dr. Lam Dorji, the Executive Director of RSPN said, “We can already see the deteriorating state of habitats and the number of cranes that used to visit is going down.” He added that It is good to be observant so that we can work together as it is an indicator of the health of our environment.
During the workshop, forestry officials from areas that are wintering grounds for Black-Necked Cranes shared some of the major challenges in conserving the habitats of the Cranes.
Sonam Choidup, Research and Monitoring ranger of the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary said how the population of cranes visiting the area is decreasing owing to human activities such as town expansion, land development and change in agriculture practices such as farm mechanization.
He added that the area also witnessed two major flash floods in the recent years which further fuelled habitat deterioration.
The workshop was started last year mainly to address knowledge gaps among stakeholders on the presence and habitat quality of the Cranes in different parts of the country so that this will allow stakeholders to design programs to protect the species.
The Black necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) is an endemic bird found in the Himalayan region. It holds vulnerable status under IUCN as the birds are facing a higher risk of global extinction. Currently, the world’s Black-necked Crane population is estimated at around 11,000. The Cranes breed and spend the summer months in China, Ladakh (India) and Tibet and they winter in Bhutan and South Eastern parts of China and Tibet.