ITANAGAR, 5 Dec: The black-necked cranes which annually visit Sangti valley in West Kameng district and Zemithang in Tawang during winter are increasingly shortening their days of stay, prompting concern among environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts.
Locally known as thung thung karmo, the blacked-necked crane is a migratory bird, and is revered by the followers of Buddhism in the two districts. The cranes usually arrive in Sangti valley in the first week of December and leave after two months of stay.
With their habitat being threatened due to the increasing human population, the number of black-necked cranes arriving in the area is decreasing with each passing year.
“Earlier, they used to stay for two months. But a lot of picnic spots and homestays have opened up in the area where these birds take shelter during their stay. This has disturbed their habitation,” said Dirang Range Forest Officer (RFO) RS Gonpapa. He said that there is a need for creating greater awareness among the people to protect these birds.
“Under the leadership of DFO Chukhu Loma, we are making a serious plan to give awareness to the local villagers and also to include them in our efforts to save the black-necked cranes,” the RFO said.
This year, the black-necked cranes arrived in Sangti on 28 November. “Unfortunately, due to disturbance created by tourists and picnickers, they left Sangti after just two days of stay. Scared, they fled to Jingkha, which is a few kilometres away from Sangti. However, at Jingkha also they were disturbed by tourists and again came back to Sangti,” said biologist and Sangti resident Lobsang Sherab.
He said that the birds are leaving Sangti much earlier due to such disturbances. “Last year, two black-necked cranes stayed only for seven days. They are leaving quickly, which is not a good sign. Also, with each passing year, the number of migratory birds arriving has also reduced,” said Sherab.
He urged the authorities to manage the flow of tourists during the time the black-necked cranes arrive. “Most of the tourists come to Sangti to watch black-necked cranes. But many of them do not know how to approach these birds. This is putting the lives of these migratory birds at risk. The tourists need to be educated,” he added.
This year, a black-necked crane couple and their young one arrived in Sangti. As per Buddhist beliefs, the arrival of these birds is considered a good omen.