Phobjikha Valley Sees Increasing Number Of Black-Necked Cranes – Birds Regarded As Sacred By The Bhutanese

Email

Since October, close to 270 black-necked cranes have already arrived in the Phobjikha Valley.

(Source: Bhutan Travel)

 

By Phub Gyem | BBS

The Phobjikha Valley, a popular winter roosting ground for the majestic black-necked cranes, is also the largest protected wetland for the endangered birds.

The valley has been seeing an increase in the number of these endangered birds over the years. It hosted more than 500 cranes from October 2017 to February 2018. Since October, close to 270 have already arrived this year.

As winter approaches, the black-necked cranes will make their annual pilgrimage to the Phobjikha Valley around October where they usually remain until the following April.

For the Bhutanese, these endangered birds are deeply revered and some believe that they are the reincarnation of two deities who are the guardians of the Phobjikha Valley.

Upon their arrival and departure, these graceful birds will circle the Gangtey Goenpa three times. To the locals, this act represents the honouring of the three sacred jewels of Buddhism.

 

Gangtey Goenpa Monastery

Source: Wind horse tours

 

The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) has been carrying out numerous activities in the valley to secure both foraging and roosting habitats for the cranes.

“The RSPN has worked in the valley for more than three decades now,” said Jigme Tshering, the Deputy Chief Project Officer of the Crane Conservation Project.

Getting the locals involved in the conservation of the black-necked cranes

Engaging with local communities to preserve the habitat remains at the heart of the crane conservation efforts by the RSPN’s Crane Conservation Project.

 “We work with the local community there without undermining their livelihoods. It’s not like we are only protecting the habitat and forgetting the communities there,” Jigme Tshering said.

“The livelihoods of the community there also depend on the wetland. So, we work with the local community and then secure the habitats for the cranes.”

As a part of our efforts to conserve the habitat of black necked cranes, the RSPN has initiated environmentally friendly alternative energy sources in the valley. More than 200 households in the valley are now lit with the SPV solar home lights.

The RSPN has also initiated eco-tourism for the benefit of the community. It aims to create a model of community-based sustainable tourism that contributes to the conservation of the natural environment as well as to protect the cranes’ habitat.

Other protected habitats see fewer cranes

While the Phobjikha Valley has been witnessing increasing crane arrivals, the habitats in other parts of the country are seeing a decline.

 

Phobjikha Valley

Source: Bhutan ambassador holidays

 

The RSPN began keeping records of crane arrivals around mid-1980s. The Bumdeling Valley in Trashiyangtse used to see the highest number of cranes back then.

Conservationists attribute the decrease to the loss of habitat. Only 40 cranes arrived in Bumdeling so far this year.

“In Bumdelling, there has been both human pressure and natural factors, which led to the decrease in the number of crane population,” Jigme Tshering said.

Factors which caused the decrease in the number of black-necked crane arrivals

“From the ‘anthropogenic pressure’ perspective, it has mostly got to do with the decrease in foraging sites mainly caused by the abandonment of paddy fields by the local people because of human-wildlife conflict. From the natural angle, it was due to the annual flashfloods which washed away most parts of the paddy fields, as these are important foraging sites for the cranes,” he explained.

The roosting grounds in Bumthang, Lhuentse and Khotokha in Wangdue Phodrang have also been receiving fewer cranes. Only six cranes have arrived in Bumthang and seven in Khotokha so far this year.

“Habitats in the central regions like Bumthang were more affected by human pressure. There has been lots of development in Chamkhar,” Jigme Tshering said.

 

Source: Saving Cranes

 

“People used to say hundreds of cranes used to visit before but now for obvious reasons only one or two are found.”

The loss of habitat is not the only threat to the vulnerable bird species. It also falls prey to wild and stray animals.

“There are lots of predators. In Phobjikha, we have recorded the common leopards attacking the cranes through camera trappings. In other areas, it was mostly stray dogs,” Jigme Tshering said.

“We have been working with our partners there-the department of livestock. They have been trying to control the dog population. From the anthropogenic point of view, it’s mostly encroachment into their habitat and also changes in the land use pattern by the farmers.”

The RSPN maintains and restores the cranes’ roosts every year around mid-September, just before the birds’ arrival in the valley.

With the birds still arriving, crane conservationists are expecting to see more arrivals this year.

  

This article first appeared in BBS and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.

 


Related Posts

Discover The Wonders Of The Black-Necked Crane Festival – A Day...

This unique festival will leave a lasting impression on you. With more than a hundred villagers participating, see the...

Nov 09, 2018 21:39

Phobjikha Residents Support Black-Necked Crane Conservation

According to a study on the conservation of black-necked cranes and its perceived trade-offs in Phobjikha Valley, 75...

Dec 08, 2017 15:09

Man-made Pond Invites Black-Necked Cranes

Developed by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) last September, the pond ensures the safety of the winged...

Jan 10, 2018 16:52

Craft Gallery To Hold Art Exhibition On Endemic Birds Of Bhutan

The paintings were gifted to the Gyalyum Charitable Trust by Thai artist Waraporn Khanthasiri.

Jul 20, 2018 16:32

Birds Of Bhutan

Bhutan is considered one of the top birding spots in the world.

Jun 09, 2018 08:32

First Junior Rangers Club Formed In Merak, Bhutan With An...

According to the park officials, the main aim of forming the junior rangers club is to educate and encourage the young...

Nov 03, 2018 15:32

Latest

News

Discover The Transformation Of Samtse On Bhutan’s 111th National Day Celebrations

“The most remote gewog is now connected with roads,” said Man Bir Gurung of Norgaygang.

Dec 17, 2018 20:07

Bhutan Enters ‘Preparatory Period’ Of Five Years To Graduate From Its Least Developed Countries Status

The 'preparatory period' will end on 13 December 2023.

Dec 17, 2018 09:58

Features

Endangered One-Horned Rhinoceros Spotted At Royal Manas National Park In Bhutan

The one-horned rhinoceros was captured multiple times in a camera trap set up for tracking tigers.

Dec 16, 2018 12:33

73 Year Old Non-Formal Education Instructor Wants To Continue Teaching In Bhutan's Remote Villages

At 73, Serchung is one of the oldest non-formal education (NFE) instructors in Bhutan today.

Dec 16, 2018 01:09

Sports

Japanese Volunteers Taught Football Skills To Some Young Monks And Hope to Reach Out To All Other Monastic Institutions In Bhutan

Held on World Children’s Day on 20 November, the programme was spearheaded by the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV).

Nov 24, 2018 06:06

Female Archer Dorji Dema Hopes To Inspire More Women To Take Up Archery In Bhutan

Dorji Dema, a mother of three is among the first women in Bhutan to play in an archery tournament.

Nov 05, 2018 08:11

Business

JICA’s Horticulture Projects Benefit Farmers In Eastern Bhutan

The Agriculture Research and Development Centre’s Deputy Chief Horticulture Officer, Sonam Gyeltshen said that according to an impact...

Dec 13, 2018 22:16

Bhutan Expects Record Low Inflation In 2018

The nine-month average inflation rate this year was recorded at 2.61 percent, the lowest figure since 2004.

Dec 09, 2018 11:47

Travel

Lhop Widows From Samtse, Bhutan Keep Their Culture Of ‘Duk Tsho Hang’ Alive

There is a thriving custom among the Lhops – women are not allowed to wear ornaments after their partners die.

Dec 08, 2018 22:08

Bhutan Received 71,417 International Visitors In 2017; Singapore, USA And Japan In Top 10 List

In 2017, Bhutan received 71,417 international visitors and the revenue earned was USD 79m, the highest arrival and revenue since 2012.

Dec 03, 2018 11:25

Lifestyle

‘The Raven Tells A Story’ – Book Dedicated To Bhutan’s 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck Launched

The book was written by Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck.

Dec 17, 2018 15:47

Bhutanese Who Has Worked In New York And Singapore, Sells Artisanal Bread Via Instagram

Jamsel Tshering Gyaltshen decided to choose a future in the food industry after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New...

Dec 16, 2018 07:45

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!