CONSERVATION OF THE VULNERABLE BLACK-NECKED CRANES IN BHUTAN

GLOBAL POPULATION : 10,000 – 10,200

(source: ICF website)

Although Bhutan is a forested country abounding in wildlife, large animal species are rarely seen because of the dense forest cover. An exception is the Black-necked Cranes that inhabit wetlands and fields. The crane wintering areas are among the few areas where excellent viewing of wildlife is possible. From the global population of about 10,000-10200 Black-necked Cranes (BNC),more than 600 of them migrate to Bhutan every winter, making the country the largest wintering habitat outside China.

Key Threats

  • Habitat loss and degradation
  • Changes in agriculture practices
  • Climate Change

These graceful birds are the heavenly ambassadors/indicator of healthy agricultural land and its surrounding ecosystems including wetlands, ponds and water bodies.

BNC spends five months in Bhutan, spread across the valleys of four districts; Wangdue Phodrang in the west-central, Bumthang in the central, and Lhuentse and Trashiyangtse in the east. Records with RSPN since 1987 show an increasing trend in the wintering population (from 370 in 1987 to 590 individuals in 2020). The valleys of Phobjikha in Wangdue Phodrang and Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse are the two major wintering habitats, of which, Phobjikha hosts the largest population in the country. However, some of the historic habitats like Paro, Bajo, Punakha and some areas of Bumthang valley no longer hosts BNC due to habitat loss by developmental activities.

BNC spends five months in Bhutan, spread across the valleys of four districts; Wangdue Phodrang in the west-central, Bumthang in the central, and Lhuentse and Trashiyangtse in the east. Records with RSPN since 1987 show an increasing trend in the wintering population (from 370 in 1987 to 587 individuals in 2020). The valleys of Phobjikha in Wangdue Phodrang and Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse are the two major wintering habitats, of which, Phobjikha hosts the largest population in the country. However, some of the historic habitats like Paro, Bajo, Punakha and some areas of Bumthang valley no longer hosts BNC due to habitat loss by developmental activities.

CURRENT PROJECT

BE A PART OF MISSION

Given the current scenario of supporting Black-necked Crane conservation program in the country through project tied funding, RSPN wishes to establish an endowment fund which would ensure the sustainability of the conservation program and long term impact. To constantly carry out the conservation work for BNC and their habitat, RSPN has developed a 5 year action plan in consultation with all the stakeholders. This would require an estimated amount of US $ 100,000 annually, and can only be possible with an endowment fund of US $ 2 million at 5% annual investment interest. So far, we have raised US $ 30,000 through individual and institutional donors.

At RSPN, we believe a single grain of sand can tip the scale. You can be the grain that tips the scale towards improved environmental conditions and conservation efforts in Bhutan. RSPN has set a target to raise US$ 1.5 million for next 10 years.