Crane caretaker Phurba wins the first ‘Regional Crane Conservation Award’

ap_phurba_02_rspn27 April 2011: From feeding the Black Necked Cranes to fighting for its survival, Mr. Phurba Wangdi, a 65 year old local Bumdeling resident is known as the Black Necked Crane Caretaker in Bumdeling in Trashi Yangtse. These birds visit the valley every winter. His commitment for conservation of the Black Necked Crane was recognized by not only the local community but international organizations like the WWF, when he was awarded the first ever ‘Regional Crane Conservation Award’ at the regional workshop held in Delhi last week.

The workshop was inaugurated on April 22 to celebrate the Earth Day. Dasho Paljor Dorji, advisor to the National Environment Commission of Bhutan and Founder of Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) was also present during the inaugural session.

“I would like to share this honour with my village community, park staff, and conservation organizations working in the area. Without their assistance, tolerance and support I would not have been able to achieve what I have in the last three decades” said the award winner. RSPN also pay him an annual fee for monitoring and reporting on black-necked cranes in Bumdeling.

The chief guest for the inaugural session of the workshop, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Hon’ble Minister of Environment & Forests, Government of India honoured the award.

At the inaugural session of the workshop, the Chief Guest said, “Endangered bird species like the Black-necked Crane, deserve special attention. This is not only because of their significance in the larger order of nature, but for the immense opportunities for regional and international cooperation that they bring in their fold. These migratory birds recognize no boundaries hence it becomes all the more crucial to safeguard their shared habitats for the well being of the species and the ecosystem.”

The primary objectives of the workshop was to facilitate knowledge-sharing and information exchange among conservation experts on the Black-necked Crane, to foster international cooperation among India, China and Bhutan, and to explore the opportunities of community exchange program between these countries. The Black-necked Crane listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species represents the fragility of this high altitude ecosystem.

During the two day workshop, countries discussed their individual concerns and conservation plans.

Dasho Paljor Dorji, who is also a pioneer conservationist in Bhutan said, “This is a great platform that has given participants the opportunities to learn and share their knowledge and expertise on wetlands and Black-necked Cranes back home with the other members”.

It was attended by government officials from Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, NGOs working on conservation issues like Birdlife International and Wetlands International, Royal Society for Protection of Nature, and environmentalists and bird experts from India, Bhutan and China.

The two-day workshop’s theme was ‘Cranes Calling: Regional cooperation for conservation of Black-necked Crane’. It was organized by WWF Bhutan in collaboration with WWF India, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Indian Bird conservation Network (IBCN) organized among Bhutan, China and India on April 22 and 23, 2011 at the WWF-India Secretariat in New Delhi.

Reported by: Jigme Tshering, RSPN