On The Trail Of Wintering Black-Necked Cranes In India
The Black-necked Crane is a globally endangered species. It is the bird of high altitude wetlands.
To check the occurrence of wintering Black-necked Cranes in Arunachal Pradesh and explore areas suitable for the cranes
- Black-necked Cranes were noted in Arunachal Pradesh according to earlier records.
- A survey of the valleys was undertaken to check if they still could be found there. Actual observations on the field were coupled with information obtained from the local inhabitants.
- A hitherto unknown valley was discovered where Black-necked Cranes were found to winter.
- Discussions were carried out with local people and government officials to form a people’s sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh for wintering Black-necked Cranes.
- It was found from earlier observations of wintering cranes in Bhutan that cranes used flat, broad valleys with cultivations and marshes. Buddhism with its benign attitude towards animals and birds was also reckoned to be a factor of considerable importance in locating these cranes. The regions explored were adjacent to India’s border with Bhutan.
- The cranes were found to winter in the Sangti valley in Arunachal Pradesh. The area around paddy fields was ideal as wintering habitat for cranes. The human culture was friendly and did not deprive the cranes of food, freedom of movement and shelter. The only factor of disturbance appeared to be use of dynamite for road construction.
- Habitat requirements of the Black-necked Crane – Black-necked Cranes were observed to obtain their food (grains) from stubble grain fields and it consisted mainly of rice with lesser amounts of wheat, maize and barley taken wherever available. Invertebrate food consisted of earthworms, beetles, worms and snails. Roosting requirements are supplied by marshes and river channels.
- The suitability of a roosting site was calculated taking 3 factors into account.
- Unobstructed view of greater than 100 m
- Mean depth of water between 10 and 30 cm
- Freedom from disturbance within defined distances
- The roosting suitability was worked out for 4 different valleys in Arunachal Pradesh viz. Sangti, Chukhow, Sareli and Seppa.
- A representative of the local people kept records of the cranes and motivated the children to record their observations of the cranes. The people told that the cranes did not damage their crops as they arrived after the harvesting of grains is over. It was agreed to control the human activities likely to disturb the cranes like use of dynamite during the stay of the cranes in the region. As the people’s attitude towards the cranes was found to be positive, it was decided that conservation of the cranes could be achieved by unofficial means. This led to the formation of a people’s sanctuary for Black-necked Crane.