Injured black-necked crane raises need for rehab facility

RSPN raising funds to establish such a facility

Wildlife: With no medical facilities or experts to help cure injured black-necked cranes in the country, an injured black-necked crane at Phobjikha is still awaiting medical treatment.

The crane, which was named Karma, was found with its neck injured and its left wing completely immobile. The crane was found in the lower Phobjikha valley on January 6, this year, said an official from Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN).

After some care, the bird was moved to a shed to recover.

Officials said while the crane’s physical wounds have healed and the crane is looking healthier, its wing is fractured and still immobile. The wing could not be treated as there is a lack of medical facilities and expertise for such an affliction.

Officials said a distant examination conducted by the national animal hospital in Chubachu, Thimphu found that the injured crane was not able to fly, and the left pectoral limb was hanging lower than the right pectoral limb.

Officials of the animal hospital recommended RSPN seek advice from the wild life rescue centre.

“We observed that the crane is experiencing a phenomenon called ‘Zugunruhe’ in migratory birds who become restless in spring and autumn,” said an official. “We are trying our best to consult veterinarians across the globe and seeking support from bird lovers.”

They said that they have been mobilising funds to provide a better medical rehab facility for the injured crane. “We are also conducting some fund raising, and crowd funding within the country and as of now we received about Nu 160,000. RSPN’s friends from the United States of American and Australia have also helped a lot,” said an official.

This fund is required to establish a rehab centre for injured cranes like Karma in the future. Karma is the first such case in Bhutan. Last year an adult crane was injured but recovered within a week after receiving medical treatment, said an official.

With an increasing number of crane arrivals in Bhutan, a need for a medical rehab centre for black-necked cranes has become a priority, officials said.

RSPN official said without scientific assessment, they cannot ascertain the cause of the crane’s injuries.

Meanwhile, RSPN officials said the number of black-necked cranes visiting Bhutan has steadily increased over the past two and a half decades. The average growth rate of black-necked cranes visiting Bhutan has increased by 1.73 (six cranes) annually in the last 28 years.

While Phobjikha valley is seeing a gradual increase in crane arrivals, Bumthang, Bumdeling and Khotokha are seeing fewer cranes, especially after the early 1990s.

With 457 black-necked cranes arriving in Phobjikha in 2015-2016, officials said it was the highest number recorded in the last 30 years. Counting was carried out in January-February this year.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue

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