Black-necked cranes return to Tawang

  • Category
  • Published
    13th Dec, 2018


  • Arunachal Pradesh’s border district of Tawang celebrates the arrival of sacred black-headed cranes to their winter grounds.
  • Tawang’s Pangcheng valley along the Nyamjang Chhu River is their winter abode.


Black necked crane

  • It is a medium-sized craneof Asia that breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and remote parts of India and Bhutan.
  • It is revered in Buddhist traditions and culturally protected across much of its range.
  • A festival in Bhutan celebrates the bird while the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir considers it as the state bird.

Distribution and Habitat-

  • The crane breeds and winters in Xinjang, Tibet, Qinghai and Sichuan in China and Jammu & Kashmir in India.
  • In Yunnan, Guizhou, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, it only comes during the winters.
  • In Arunachal Pradesh, the bird winters in three areas: the Sangti valley in West Kameng district, and Zemithang and the Chug valley in Tawang district.
  • The cranes usually arrive in all three areas in late October or early November, and depart in late March or early April. 
  • The largest populations are in China with smaller numbers extending into Vietnam, Bhutan and India.


  • The bird is protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and is in the ‘vulnerable category’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources(IUCN)
  • It is listed in Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES) also known as the Washington Convention.


  • Habitat modification, drying of lakes and agriculture are threats to the populations.
  • In many areas, dogs belonging to herders are a major threat to young birds.
  • Power lines has been another cause of mortality in some areas.
  • The drying of wetlands can cause increased accessibility of the nests leading to predation while a rise in the water level can submerge nests.
  • The problems are most serious in the wintering areas, where wetlands are extensively affected by human activity including irrigation, dam construction, draining, and grazing pressure.
  • In Tibet, widespread changes in traditional agricultural practices have reduced the availability of waste barley and spring wheat.

Measures or Safeguards-

  • Supporting pilot projects to reduce degradation around key wetlands through alternative livelihoods and agriculture practices.
  • Undertaking long-term monitoring of selected breeding areas to assess the impacts of climate change on cranes and key wetlands, and to develop measures for adaptation to climate change.
  • Strengthening environmental education efforts and community awareness.

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