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2015/16 Record black-necked cranes arrived
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Blacked necked cranes
2015/16 - Record 609 black-necked cranes arrived this winter

After initial fears of dwindling number of black-necked cranes coming to Bhutan in winter, the country recorded the highest arrival this winter with 609 birds counted yesterday.

This is the highest number of cranes in 29 years according to Royal Society for Protection of Nature's (RSPN) nationwide counting.

Bumthang Guesthouse

"This year's 609 is the highest black-necked crane arrival since Bhutan began its annual counting in 1987,"manager of black-necked crane visitor's center in Phobjikha, Santa Lal Gajmer said.

This year, Bhutan received 59 more cranes from 550 in 2014, the previous highest.

The annual nationwide counting of the bird was conducted between 6-7 am on February 3, 2016 by RSPN in collaboration with respective forestry officials and local leaders in Phobjikha, Bumdeling, Lhuentse and Bumthang.

The counting was done during the same time frame across the country to avoid double counting.

When Bhutan started keeping the record of the bird in 1987, only 370 cranes were recorded. Today, crane arrival in Bhutan has increased by over 48 percent according to RSPN's study on current population status and conservation initiative.

Between 1987-2014, Bhutan on an average received 415 cranes annually. Every year from 1987-2014, the number of cranes arriving in Bhutan increased by six on an average.

This time even Phobjikha where the bird's arrival has been on dramatic rise of 251 percent in 29 years received 457 cranes, the highest number since 1987. In 2014 Phobjikha received 422 cranes.

Crane arrival in Phobjikha has more than tripled since 2013.

"This year 57 cranes were found wintering below Aman Kora, a luxury resort in Phobjikha, where only five to six was seen before," Santa Lal Gajmer said.

Over the course of 29 years, Phobjikha now records 59 percent of the total annual crane arrivals from just 32 in 1987.

Bumdeling saw its annual arrival increase to 109 from last year's 107.

Crane arrival in Bumdeling for the last few years remained consistent after 2012, recording above 100 arrivals every year despite the loss of its habitat to floods in 2004 and 1990s.

Bumthang and Khotakha had 25 and 14 cranes respectively.

Lhuentse recorded the least arrival with just fourcranes this year.

Contributed by Tempa Wangdi, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper 2016

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