More cranes expected this time

Last year, only 65 Black Necked Cranes arrived in Trashiyangtse

The endangered Black Necked Cranes (BNCs) have returned to one of its winter roosting and feeding grounds in the Bumdeling valley of Trashiyangtse. 

As of yesterday, 29 cranes have arrived in the dzongkhag and the first group arrived on November 16. A more number of the BNCs are expected to arrive in the district this year.

The Senior Forestry officer of the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, Tshering Dendup said the cranes arrived late this time on November 16, whereas last year they arrived on November 5.

Normally, the cranes arrive in the first week of November and stay until the first week of March. 

โ€œHowever, in these 15 days seeing the number of the cranes, this time we expect to spot more cranes compared to the previous year,โ€ he added. 

As per the records maintained of the cranesโ€™ arrival, the highest number was recorded with 260 BNCs and the lowest was recorded last year. On an average, 100 BNCs are spotted annually in Trashiyangtse.   

Tshering Dendup said that the biggest threats to the Bumdeling Crane Habitat are the periodic floods, washing away of the paddy fields, and destroying of the crane habitat. 

โ€œWhen the paddy fields are shrunk by seasonal floods, the feeding areas also shrink,โ€ he said. 

The cranes mainly feed on fallen grains left during the harvest season, and the disturbance of feeding and roosting grounds reportedly results in a decreasing number of cranes. 

Meanwhile, Bhutan has made significant strides in conserving the BNCs. The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) has been carrying out numerous activities in the valley to secure both the foraging and roosting habits of the cranes. 

To increase the number of cranes in the area, habitat management is more important, besides the conservation activities, the Tshering Denduo said.

For habitat management, forestry officials with the help of local communities conduct cleaning campaigns to maintain comfortable roosting sides.  Furthermore, they are also working on land reclamation (those affected by floods with the help of the government and the RSPN). 

โ€œThe RSPN has been instrumental for us as they have helped in many ways to preserve the cranes. Without the RSPN, the forestry might not have done much alone,โ€ Tshering Dendup said.

Engaging with the local communities and with different stakeholders to preserve the habitat remains at the heart of the crane conservation efforts by the department in collaboration with the RSPN. 

โ€œWe work with the community to secure the habitats for the cranes as the livelihood of the locals also depend on the wetlands,โ€ Tshering Dendup said, adding that the local government and schools also play a crucial role in preserving the cranes. 

As the cranes hold a special place in the heart of the people of Trashiyangtse, the BNC festival is celebrated twice to welcome and bid farewell to the cranes. However, the celebration could not happen after the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. 

The BNC is legally protected in Bhutan and any offence in relation to the protected bird species is a fourth degree-felony as per the Penal Code of Bhutan.

Tenzin Lhamo from Trashiyangtse