A family of black-necked cranes, a pair and two juveniles, were spotted roosting in an artificial pond in Uruk, Bumthang.

Developed by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) last September, the pond ensures safety of the winged visitors at night.

According RSPN’s Senior Project Officer for Black Necked Crane Conservation, Jigme Tshering, a stray dog killed an adult crane in Uruk last year. Red fox killed two cranes in 2014.

The most common predators are stray dogs, red fox, and leopard.

“Considering the high risk of attack from the predators we built ponds, which are one of the best ways to keep the crane safe,” said Jigme Tshering. “The water ripples and sound from water alert the crane at night.” The ripple and water splash are created when the predators enter the pond. The cranes prefer roosting in the pond for easy escape from danger said Jigme Tshering. “Black-necked cranes require shallow ponds to roost in safely.”

The 20×20-metre pond was developed with the help of local community of Uruk. The pond was developed using a stream that flows through the 40-acre wetland.

RSPN officials said that from 22 cranes that were spotted in 2014-2015 winter, only six returned last winter.

Given the good experience from artificial ponds development at Phobjikha valley in Wangdue, RSPN took their experience to Bumthang.

There are three artificial ponds in Phobjikha valley that provide good roosting for the cranes said, Jigme Tshering. “With this mechanism in place, attack on the cranes has drastically reduced.”

As of now, 499 black-necked cranes have arrived in their winter home. Phobjikha has the highest with (383). Bumdeling in Trashiyantshe so far recorded 90, seven in Khotokha in Wangdue and three each in Tang in Bumthang and Dungkar in Lhuntse.

Looking at the arrival rate, it’s likely that more cranes might arrive this winter said, Jigme Tshering.

Black-necked cranes arrive in the country in late October and return to their summer roosting place in Tibet by the end of February.

In summer, most of the cranes root at Yamtso Yumtso and Bamtso in Tibetan plateau.

Considered a threatened bird, it is estimated that there are around 11,000 black-necked cranes in the world. Efforts are being made to conserve the bird.

Tenzin Namgyel