Tshering Phuntsho, Jigme Tshering. Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in Bhutan: Current population status and conservation initiatives. Zoological Research, 2014, 35(S1): 10-19. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2014.s1.0010
Citation: Tshering Phuntsho, Jigme Tshering. Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in Bhutan: Current population status and conservation initiatives. Zoological Research, 2014, 35(S1): 10-19. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2014.s1.0010

Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in Bhutan: Current population status and conservation initiatives

doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2014.s1.0010
  • Received Date: 2014-12-01
  • Rev Recd Date: 2014-12-15
  • Publish Date: 2014-12-08
  • Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) is classified as Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List Categories and legally protected in Bhutan. Bhutan is an important and the largest winter non-breeding habitat outside of the Chinese boundary. Black-necked Cranes winter in Bhutan for about five months, and they come to central (Phobjilka, Khotokha and Gyetsa) and eastern (Bumdeling) Bhutan. In Bhutan most wintering areas lie within the Conservation or protected areas, and Bumdeling and Khotokha are declared as RAMSAR site. The Royal Society for Protection of Nature and Department of Forest and Park Services initiated the counting of Black-necked Cranes in Bhutan from 1986-1987 winter. In the last 28 winters (1986-2013), the average annual number of arrivals of Black-necked Cranes in Bhutan was 4151. With only 370 Black-necked Cranes visiting Bhutan in the 1986-1987 winter to 550 Black-necked Cranes visiting Bhutan in 2013-2014 winter there has been an increase of 48.6% growth2. The average growth rate of Black-necked Cranes visiting Bhutan has increased by 1.73% (six cranes) annually in the last 28 years. Black-necked Cranes visiting Bhutan has steadily increased over the past two and a half decades. While Phobjikha valley has a gradual increase in Black-necked Crane arrivals, Bumthang, Bumdeling and Khotokha have seen fewer cranes especially after the early 1990s. For Bhutan as a whole, in the year with the highest count of Black-necked Cranes (550), this number included 63 juveniles indicating juvenile recruitment of 11.4%.Threats to these birds are mostly anthropogenic in nature driven by economic development and advancement. Around the globe, primarary threats impacting Black-necked Cranes are agriculture and tourism. Conservation initiatives in these habitats include habitat rehabilitation, habitat and predation studies, awareness programs and banding research activities. Sustainable livelihood programshave also been implemented in Phobjikha and Bumdeling with the former receiving more attention. Bhutan's sound conservation policies and respect for the Black-necked Cranes as the LhaBja heavenly bird have provided both legal and social protection to this winter guest.
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