For the first time in Bhutan’s conservation history, a flock of Black Necked cranes were spotted in Thrakthri in Sakteng under Trashigang last week. The cranes had later migrated to Sakteng and are reported to be foraging and roosting in the place.
The officials with the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) have recorded the cranes for the first time in the park provinces. The cranes are believed to be exploring and migrating to new and different places.
Two years ago, a flock of Black Necked cranes were even sighted in warmer plains in southern dzongkhag areas, like Gelephu.
Last year in December, a flock of Black Necked cranes comprising of two adults were spotted in Minjay gewog under Lhuentse. They were reportedly roosting within the wetlands of the gewog.
It was not the first time that the Black Necked cranes were spotted in Lhuentse. Beside their popular habitat in Phobjikha, Bumdeling and Kotokha, the cranes’ presence in Lhuentse was reported since a long time back.
For instance, a group of six cranes were spotted in their winter stamping ground in Dungkar, Lhuentse, last winter as well. The group included five adults and one juvenile crane. They are found to be roosting in places, like Serphu and Tsongsar in Dungkar gewog.
The Black Necked cranes are primarily found in places, like Phobjikha and Khotokha in Wangdue, Geytsa, Chumey, Thangbi, Dhur and Tang in Bumthang and Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse.
Hence, the wildlife conservationist and climate change experts attribute this unusual range shift of the cranes to the impacts of increasing global temperatures. Other factors, like climate change and global warming can have detrimental effects and could force animals to move away to other places suitable to their adaptability.
As of now, the experts are without a concrete data to determine the range shift, but they expect to understand the climate change and their impacts on animals after 10-15 years
Camera traps are also being deployed in varying altitudinal locations within the preserves to monitor animal populations. The camera traps are used to capture the images of animals occurring in the places they are deployed in, and thus, providing critical understanding on the animal population and their movements.
With the launch of its web portal ‘Eyes on Wild Bhutan,’ last year, Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang will maintain a close tab on Bhutan’s biological diversity. It is expected to help determine how the species responds to climate change and provide better insight into how wild animal species are negatively impacted by climate change.