ITANAGAR, Feb 12: Experts have called for collaboration between India and Bhutan for Black-necked Crane Conservation.

In order to discuss the current status and conservation measures related to the species, a two-day Indo-Bhutan workshop on Black-necked Crane was organized at Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh, jointly organized by WWF-India in collaboration with the Forest Department of Arunachal Pradesh. The workshop was attended by the Black-necked Crane experts from India and Bhutan and community conservationists from Zemithang and Sangti valleys of Arunachal Pradesh. During the workshop, the experts deliberated on a range of issues including current status of the species at all the key crane habitats in India and Bhutan.

The Black-necked Crane breeds in the high altitude wetlands of the Tibetan Plateau (China) Eastern Ladakh in J&K and Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim (India). The species winters in lower altitudes in Tibetan Plateau, Yunan and Guizhou (China), Phobjika and Bumdeling (Bhutan) and Sangti, Zimithang valleys in Arunachal Pradesh (India). The species has strong cultural, spiritual and religious links to the local people in the region. The total global population of the species is estimated to be about 11,000 individuals and it is listed as a globally ‘Vulnerable’ species by IUCN.

The wetland habitats used by the Black-necked Crane are ecologically unique and extremely fragile, the conservation of which is essential, as these wetlands are also hydrologically very important. The close cultural and spiritual link of the local Buddhist communities with this crane species along its distribution range also lends this landscape a sacred fervour. A small proportion of the critically important sites have been designated under the Ramsar List of Internationally Important wetlands and East Asian –Australasian Flyway Site Network.

The workshop delegates also visited the Sangti Valley, a key habitat of Black-necked Crane in Arunachal Pradesh and interacted with the local community and school students. The workshop concluded with a range of recommendation and called for immediate conservation actions to protect the wintering habitat of Black-necked Crane in Sangti and Zemithang valleys of Arunachal Pradesh.

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During the workshop, presentations were made by the experts on the current status and conservation issues related to Black-necked Crane in Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. The experts from Bhutan deliberated on a range of issues related to the conservation of the species in Bhutan.

Prof. S. A. Hussain, senior scientist from the Wildlife Institute of India made a presentation on the migration studies on this species in India. Dr. Sherub from the Forest Department of Government of Bhutan made a presentation on the migration studies on Black-necked Crane in Bhutan.

Kamal Medhi, Coordinator of the Western Arunachal Landscape made a presentation on the current status of Black-necked Crane in Arunachal Pradesh and informed the experts about WWF conservation actions on the species in Arunachal Pradesh.

Tshering Phuntsho from the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) in Bhutan stressed on the need to enhance the understanding on the impacts of anthropogenic pressures and climate change on Black-necked Crane habitats and populations in the Indo-Bhutan region.

Divisional Forest Officers from Shergaon and Bomdila forest division, local administration of West Kameng district also participated throughout the workshop.

The workshop was coordinated by Pankaj Chandan head of the Western Himalayan Landscape of WWF-India. He informed that this initiative is to protect and to promote the Black-necked Crane as a symbol of cultural identity of Himalayan mountain ecosystems. In the concluding session of the workshop delegates from Bhutan and India jointly agreed that the country specific conservation initiatives should be synergised so as to conserve black-necked crane habitat as a trans-boundary conservation initiative.

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Article source: The Arunachal Times
Picture courtesy: Tshering Phuntsho, RSPN