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The Black Necked Crane

NewsBlack-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) have been sighted for the first time in Assam. To celebrate this, the bird was given an Assamese name “Deu Korchon” (Deu means god and Korchon means crane). 

 

About Black Necked Crane: The black-necked crane is endemic to the Tibetan Plateau. It is a medium-sized crane that is mostly grey with a black head and neck with a red crown on the head. 

Conservation Status:  

  • IUCN Red List: Near Threatened  
  • CITES: Appendix I  
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I 

 

Distribution:  

  • The largest populations of the bird are in China with smaller numbers extending into Vietnam, Bhutan, and India.  
  • The high-altitude wetlands in the Tibetan plateau are the main breeding ground of the species.  
  • The major wintering breeding grounds are in Tibet, Yunnan and Guizhou (China), and Bhutan. A small wintering population is also found in the Sangti and Zimithang valleys of Arunachal Pradesh. 

Characteristics: 

  • Features:  
  • Both the sexes of Black Necked Crane are almost of the same size, but the male is slightly bigger than the female. 
  • The juveniles have a brownish head and neck and plumage is slightly paler than that of an adult. 
  • Food Habits: These black-necked crane species are omnivorous. The primary diet of these crane species is plant matter like rhizomes, seeds, sprouts, roots, tubers, stems, shoots and leaves. 

 

Threats: The major threats are:  

  • Loss and degradation of habitat  
  • Wetlands being extensively affected by human activity including irrigation, dam construction, draining, and grazing pressure among others. 

 

Significance: 

  • The black-necked crane is central to Buddhist mythology and culture. According to  World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), previous incarnations of the Dalai Lama were carried from monastery to monastery on the backs of these holy birds. 
  • The Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir in India considers it as the state bird. 

 

Conservation Initiatives: 

Worldwide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu & Kashmir has been working towards the conservation of high-altitude wetlands, with black-necked cranes as a priority species in the Ladakh region. 

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