Coordination Meeting on Black-necked Cranes and their Habitats in Bhutan

BNC_coordination_meeting_30May2011With the key objectives of bringing together people working in the wintering habitats of the Black Necked Cranes in Bhutan and other relevant stakeholders and to share experiences and status of the species conservation works in their respective areas, a one day workshop was organized by RSPN in Thimphu on May 30th, 2011. Furthermore the workshop was also aimed to evolve a mechanism to regularly share information about status and conservation of species from their respective areas.

The Executive Director of the Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Dr. Lam Dorji welcomed the participants who mostly from the major Black-Necked Crane habitats in Bhutan. He informed that such representation from various agencies showcases the level of importance and support that is given to Black-necked Crane conservation. However, he mentioned that there is a general lack of coordination amongst many stakeholders especially in regard to conservation. He stressed that coordination is an important aspect of successful conservation initiatives and that stakeholders must come together as conservation in itself is in development process. He briefly narrated the history of RSPN and shared how RSPN began to institutionalise with its very humble beginning starting with crane monitoring in Phobjikha. He thanked the stakeholders for making it for the meeting and urged them to foster common conservation objective.

Participants of the meeting

The  Conservation and sustainable livelihoods program coordinator of RSPN, Rinchen Wangmo stressed that the main objective of the meeting was to come up with a mechanism for sharing information and conservation of the cranes’ winter habitat in Bhutan and also to work towards partnership in its conservation.

The Black necked cranes (grus nigricollis) are the last of the world’s 15 cranes species to be discovered and they are endemic to the Asian region. The Black-necked Cranes are recorded as ‘Vulnerable’ species under the IUCN red list category due their limited number and small distribution range. Until the 1980s, they were the least known of the crane species because of the geographical and political inaccessibility across much of its habitat range. The latest census worldwide is estimated to be 11,000.

Every winter towards the end of October about 500 of these birds migrate to Bhutan. The Black Necked Cranes prefer fallow agricultural fields and freshwater wetlands for feeding and roosting.

However, with modernization and the changing lifestyles of the people, the wetlands and the cranes habitats are crucial to loss and degradation. Unplanned encroachment into these fragile winter habitats may pose a long term threat to the survival of the birds and associated species.

The stakeholders hope that it will further give a platform for the people to share emerging environmental issues in their respective areas related to the conservation of these habitats.