Black-necked Crane Festival Brochure



Nestled in the inner Himalayas of the Kingdom of Bhutan at about 3000 metres above sea level, is the wide alpine wetland valley of Phobjikha. The wetland is considered the largest and the most significant wetland in the country. Often cited for the harmonious co‐existence of its inhabitants with nature, the valley is also culturally significant. Since time immemorial, the local people’s tradition and respect for sentient beings have ushered the valley into the most significant wintering ground of the rare and endangered Black‐necked cranes in Bhutan. Every year, over 300 of the estimated 500 cranes that migrate to Bhutan spend their winter months in this valley. Additionally, the highly revered Gangtey Monastery that overlooks the wetlands surrounded by subsistence farms and natural forest areas makes Phobjikha a stunningly beautiful and sacred valley. Today, this supposedly glacial valley is an attraction not just to tourists but also pilgrims.

Besides being the home to the cranes, Phobjikha is also the livelihood base for about 5000 subsistence farmers who have aspirations for economic development. Since the early 1990s, the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), Bhutan’s only environmental NGO envisaged that unguided pursuit of the local community for economic development could not only severely undermine the ecological significance of the area but also adversely affect the local livelihoods.

Hence, RSPN initiated the integrated conservation and development program with the sole objective of establishing a strong linkage between environment conservation and economic welfare of the local people. Amongst many other components, Ecotourism (now Community based-sustainable tourism) was initiated to promote local economic welfare through nature based tourism programs. The Annual Black-necked Crane festival is one integral part of the ecotourism component.

The Annual Black-necked Crane Festival

The Black‐necked crane festival is held every year on 12th November in Phobjikha. The festival was initiated by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) in 1998 as part of the community based‐sustainable tourism, wherein appreciation and corresponding payment by visitors and tourists will serve as incentives for strong environmental and cultural heritage of the valley. The objectives of the festival are to:

Generate awareness and understanding among the local communities and visitors on the importance of conserving the endangered Black‐necked cranes

  • Institute economic incentives (payment) for the festival to strengthen the linkages between conservation and economic welfare
  • Provide avenue for the local community to renew their commitment to conservation of the cranes, and to showcase their cultural heritage, and skills.

While the annual crane festival is essentially geared towards generating income for the community, it also offers the opportunity for individuals, community and organizations to renew their commitment to conservation of the black-necked cranes. It is also an occasion for local people to rejoice and celebrate the arrival of cranes while providing the platform for the people to socialize for collective thoughts and actions.

The festival is now being organized and managed by the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC), a local community group composed of elected leaders and development sector representatives in the valley. The committee secures the cooperation and support of the local people and the schools in presenting a variety of cultural programmes including traditional masked and folk dances. The most amusing and entertaining part of the show that attracts the attention of the audience is the crane dance in which the school children enact the social behavior of cranes in the valley.

The success of the festival and its continuity depends entirely on the support and contributions of the visitors and well wishers of conservation. Continued appreciation and corresponding support are quintessential in maintaining strong linkages between conservation and economic welfare of the local people. Be a part of the festival and reward the community for continued conservation stewardship. Funds mobilized through this Black-necked crane festival and other activities of the committee are deposited in a community owned bank account and managed by the committee for activities of common benefit to the community.


Generally the Programme for the BNC festival include cultural programs such as folk and masked dances performed by the local people, crane dance and environmental related drama and songs by the school students.  The program usually starts by 9:30 am and lasts till 3/4pm.

Depending on the time availability, the following additional programs can also be tailor-made to fit the needs of the concerned Tour agent or an individual up to two days.

  1. Visit the Black necked crane information center
  2. Visit Gangtey Monastery
  3. Gangtey Nature trail hiking (enroute Traditional tea reception and lunch can be arranged at local farm houses)
  4. Visit the Khewang Lhakang at the centre of the valley
  5. Village walk in Lawog valley (tea at Kingathang)

The above additional programmes will require advance arrangements (based on advance demand) that would require advance request to give time for community to prepare. Following are the contact information for registration purpose:

A) Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC)

C/o RSPN Field Office, Phobjikha
+975‐2‐442536 /442548 (Telefax)


Coordinator, Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods program
Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Thimphu
Phone: +975‐2‐326130/322056 Fax: +975‐2‐323189

B) Association of Bhutanese Tour Operator (ABTO)

Address: Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators
P.O.Box # 938,
Thimphu: Bhutan.
Tel. #: ++975-2-322862
Fax. #: ++975-2-325286

To Support, make a contribution to:

Phobjikha Environment Management Committee
C/o Royal Society for Protection of Nature
Post box 325
Thimphu, BHUTAN


Bank of Bhutan, Wangduephodrang
Account Number: 9012
Ultimate beneficiary: Phobjikha Environment Management Committee