Black-necked Crane population in Bhutan.

The final Annual nation-wide Black-necked Crane (BNC) count for 2011-2012 was conducted at 0600 am on the 16th of January 2012. The count was simultaneously counted in all the major roosting sites of Bhutan with the support of Department of Forest and Park Services.  Phobjikha recorded the highest count  about 335 BNCs (including 51 Juveniles) followed by Bumdeling (102) and Bumthang and Khotokha (5 each). Paro, Lhuntse and Gelephu received 12 BNCs altogether.

BNC count 2012

Graph showing black-necked crane population in Bhutan from 1991-1992 to 2011-2012 winter periods.

Beginning from 1991-1992 to 2011-2012 winter period (21 winter periods) annual average BNC arrival in Bhutan is about 424 BNCs. With only 225 BNCs visiting Bhutan in 1991-1992 winter periods to 447 BNCs visiting Bhutan this winter (2011-2012 winter period) there has been an increase of 75.29 % growth percentage. The average growth rate of BNCs visiting Bhutan has increased by 3.58 % annually in the last 21 years. This would roughly translate into 9.1 BNCs per year.

BNCs visiting Bhutan has steadily increased over the past two decades. There have, however, been changes in the number of BNCs visiting various places within Bhutan. Bumdeling which use to receive the highest numbers of BNCs in the first half of the 1990s was gradually experiencing decreasing number of BNCs visiting the valley. On the other hand Phobjikha received more BNCs year after year.  Phobjikha valley received only 102 BNCs during the 1991-1992 winter period but 10 years later it received 248 BNCs (2000-2001 winter period). Again after 10 years, in 2009-2010 winter, the valley received 326 BNCs.  For Phobjikha there has been an increase in about 228.4 % growth percentage in the last 21 years with an annual growth percentage rate of 10.8 %.  Annually, BNCs visiting Phobjikha has increased with an average of 11 BNCs per year.

In the past two years RSPN has reportedly informed about sighting of BNCs in various places in Bhutan. Four BNCs  (2 Adults and 2 Juveniles) were seen in Karbithang – 200 meters away from Mau Khola- in Gelephu in November 2010 and  in 2011 November, eight BNCs were sighted in Dawathang and upper Karbithang in Gelephu. Similarly a lone BNCs was sighted in Kangpara on 14th December 2011 and three BNCs in Tshekhathang in the early hours of 16th December 2011. BNCs were also reportedly sighted in different places in Thimphu- Kabisa & Ramtokto- in December 2011. Though no scientific inquiry has been made on this unusual trend, it is assumed that BNCs might be looking for new habitat or lost during their flights. It could also be because of the increase awareness and reporting.

We want to thank respective Department of Forest and Park Services offices and volunteers who took part in the simultaneous count of Black-necked Crane in Bhutan and also those individuals who took pain in observing and reporting of BNCs in various parts of the country. RSPN solicit similar support in the future.

Related article: Crane count in Bhutan from 1992-1993 to 2011-2012 winter

Reported by: Tshering Phuntsho, RSPN