The annual Black-necked crane count, in their prime habitat across the country till 18 January this year, is about 544 cranes, as per records maintained by the Royal Society of Protection of Nature (RSPN).
The cranes arrive in the country,
their winter habitat, in October every year. They depart for their summer habitat to Tibet in February. The cranes are known to roost in the country, their winter home, for five months.
As per RSPN report on the annual crane count, Phobjikha valley, the prime habitat of the cranes in Bhutan, alone recorded a total of 396 cranes, of
which there were 356 adult cranes and 40 juvenile cranes.
The second prime habitat of the BNC in Bumdeling under Trashiyangtse recorded 95 adult cranes and 12 juvenile cranes.
Meanwhile, Bumthang saw an increase in the number of crane count compared to the previous years. This year 20 cranes were sighted in Chumey and two were sighted in Thangbi valley making it a 22-crane count.
However, Kutoe under Lhuentse saw just seven cranes in total, of which 6 were adult cranes and one was a juvenile. Kurtoe is the least popular habitat of the BNC. The sighting of cranes in the valley has been reported as early as 1980’s but the cranes only visited the area for only a few days. It was only in 1992 that the cranes started to spend their winter months in the locality.
A group of six cranes was spotted in their winter stamping ground in Dungkar in 2013 winter. The group included five adults and one juvenile. They are found to be roosting in places, like Serphu and Tsongsar in Dungkar gewog.
As per the RSPN report, the prime time for the BNC to leave their winter habitat and take off to their summer habitat in Tibet begins towards the end of February and this year the cranes started to fly back from February25 onwards.
The RSPN officials and other agencies with the Department of Forest and Park Services have witnessed a regular take off of cranes to their summer habitat. 68 cranes that migrated to their summer habitat on February 25 and 30 more cranes flew away the next day. Similarly, on February 27, a large number of 200 cranes left for their summer habitat. As of March 3, only 30 BNC was sighted in the Phobkjikha valley by the officials.
The annual BNC count last year recorded a total of 550 cranes with 487 adult cranes and 63 juveniles sighted in four prime habitats of the cranes in the country. Last year, Phobjikha valley alone received a total of 422 cranes including 42 juvenile cranes, and this was the highest number of cranes recorded since 1986.