11 black-necked cranes arrive in Phobjikha

The cranes will continue to arrive until December and stay till March 

Migration: Around 11 black-necked cranes have arrived in Phobjikha as of yesterday, with the first lone adult crane arriving on October 22.

According to officials at the Black-necked crane visitor centre in Phobjikha, following the arrival of the first crane, a second batch-a family of six cranes-arrived on October 27.

The family comprises of four adults and two juvenile cranes.

On October 30, around four adult cranes landed in Phobjikha.

Last year, the first group of cranes arrived only on November 6, where around 13 cranes arrived together. While Phobjikha has received the cranes earlier than last year, officials at the visitors’ centre said the timing is normal.

The centre recorded 457 black-necked cranes in Phobjikha last year, making it the highest number of cranes ever recorded in the past 30 years, as per records maintained by the centre in Phobjikha. In 2014, 396 cranes were recorded.

The cranes normally start arriving in October, and continue to arrive until the end of December. They stay in Phobjikha till March.

The centre monitors the number of crane arrivals. It also maintains an injury report and takes care of injured cranes, officials said.

The centre also sets up cameras at around 10 locations around the crane-roosting areas. Normally the centre sets up cameras in December, when crane arrivals spike.

Every year the visitors’ centre restores and maintains the roosting grounds of the cranes in the Gangtey and Phobjikha valley before the cranes arrive. Volunteers along with paid workers get together, uproot and cut grasses, level accumulated sediments and ensure that there is enough water flowing into the area.

Officials said around 22 volunteers and paid workers were involved in the restoration works, this year. Of which 13 were volunteers from the Aman and Gangtey lodge and nine were from the local community.

Swollen ponds are made shallow to suit the cranes. Around two to three such ponds are maintained annually. There are seven roosts including three artificial roosts, officials said. Restoration and maintenance of small-scale roosts was started more than a decade ago.

Officials said that the crane’s roosting sites are getting more crowded each year. The Royal Society for Protection of Nature has been maintaining both the artificial roosts and the natural ponds to accommodate more cranes and ensure safety.

As per their camera recordings, it was found that wild animals like red foxes and leopards frequented crane roosts which have dry land in its periphery. Therefore, clearing grasses and creating shallow ponds enables the cranes to remain alert.

Meanwhile, the centre is taking care of an injured crane, named Karma.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue

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