This is in response to the letter, ‘Black-necked Crane: when Science’ takes the prerogative over indigenous knowledge’ written by Tim Bodt which was published on 5th December.
The author in his article have expressed disagreement over the statement, ‘although the bird seen in Chug Valley in 2016, it is yet to be confirmed as regular winter site over a longer period of time,’ and says that it undermines indigenous knowledge.
I feel the mentioned line is based on one of my earlier articles and I wish to clarify the matter. In case of discovery of Chug valley as wintering site of Black-necked Crane and keeping the year of discovery as 2016 has a scientific basis. Any scientific claim is needed to be backed by primary solid evidence and in case of field biologist, photographic evidence is very important for any claim. Concluding from secondary evidence is not usually considered authentic in science.
The scientist, monitoring Black-necked Crane, could only record and photograph the Black-necked Crane for the first time on 17th of January, 2016 (winter of 2015-16) at Chug Valley. Moreover, literature survey confirmed, till May, 2016, wintering at Chug valley was never reported in any peer reviewed ornithological or others journals and never presented before scientific forum like seminar, conference at national or International level, even authorities on bird like International Crane Foundation, Birdlife International, Oriental Bird Club and IUCN did not mention Chug Valley as wintering site of Black-necked. So, January, 2016, was designated as date of discovery of Chug Valley as winter site for Black-necked Crane when it was recorded and documented at the spot.
Subsequently, it was reported in local dailies and respecting the local secondary information available, in the report it was clearly mentioned that Black-necked Crane visit the site regularly since many years but due to lack of scientific evidence it was not predate documentation date, which is against science ethics. Also, later on, it was submitted to one international journal publish from UK, which accepted our manuscript for publication.
Until and unless, any peer reviewed journals, paper or abstract/paper of any scientific proceeding published earlier to 2016, the year 2016 will remain the discovery date of Black-necked Crane in Chug Valley among scientific community.
Further, regarding report of sighting Black-necked Crane by locals in Arunachal Pradesh – occasionally, locals have claimed to sight them in Mechuka, Namdhapa and Gandhi Nagar but it cannot be declared as wintering site without any proper data, evidence and validation as it may be a case of mistaken-identity or a vagrancy. Same criteria apply to sighting of Black-necked Crane at Chug Valley as well. The writer misunderstood it as a case of undermining indigen-ous knowledge but I feel it as a consolidation of locals claim/ knowledge that Black-necked Crane winter at Chug Valley and a sort of help to bring it out to forefront of public as well as science domain.
Bring it to forefront; it will draw attention of the conservationists to Chug valley to start a conservation initiative, which is good for both locals and the birds.
Dr. Daniel Mize,
Ecology & Wildlife Biology