In line with the dwindling habitat of Black Necked Cranes in some part of the country, especially Bumthang, conservationist felt the critical need to bring the habitats of Black Necked Crane under conservation areas as the habitats are increasingly under threat.
Bumthang is one of the prime habitats of the crane apart from Phobjikha but of late the number of birds roosting in the area has plummeted.
Hence the Royal Society for the protection of Nature (RSPN) has conducted the first ever habitat level awareness program, sensitizing communities and local officials regarding the importance of habitat conservation of the crane.
The recent survey has found that the cranes have abandoned the roosting grounds around Usang, Gyetsa and Thomey. Further the cranes have abandoned its habitats in Choekhor, Gongkhar and Dorjibi. The evidence of the cranes abandoning its habitats in Bumthang is visible as the Cranes do not roost in Khoyear in Tang any longer.
As per the report the most important cause for its abandonment of habitats is due to the increase in fallow land and draining of wetland as the cranes roost around agricultural fields and marshes. Among five roosting grounds for the cranes in Bumthang, as of now the report claims to have lost three habitats, two in Choekhor and one habitat in Chumey.
According to the official with RSPN communities were informed about the crane’s distribution range, food preferences, habitat, its behavior, threats and conservation initiatives in Bhutan.
He said that communities during the awareness program raised concerns and pledged to protect the crane’s habitats in their respective areas and take equal responsibility in conserving the bird.
Crane habitats in Bumthang are mainly in the three gewogs such as Chumey, Choekhor and Tang. One reason behind the decrease in the number of cranes visiting to those places as per the report is due to the lack of inventory of roosting and foraging habitats of the birds that has not been mapped so far.
Hence the report stated that without the comprehensive documentation of the crane habitats in the dzongkhag it also contributes to the risk of abandoning of the habitats.
This is one of the RSPN’s initiatives in conserving cranes apart from other initiatives like awareness creation, participatory involvement of local communities, annual BNC festival and constructing and creating artificial roosting.
The entire awareness program have covered a total of six BNC habitats in six gewogs in three districts such as Bumthang , Luntse and Trashiyangtse.