Crane population on decline with shrinking wetland
January 27, 2022 03:35 PM NPT
KANCHANPUR, Jan 26: The population of the crane, a bird that lives in wetland areas, is in decreasing trend in Kanchanpur district, compared to the past. The number of this bird has started to decrease with shrinking wetland areas. Ornithologists say the loss of habitat is the main reason for the declining crane population every year.
"The number of cranes has started to drop after the local farmers began cultivation by encroaching upon the wetlands. There is a shortage of food for this bird after the wetland areas started to shrink. It is also at risk from people hunting it and the arbitrary use of pesticides in agriculture," ornithologist Hirulal Dagaura said. Dagaura is associated with Bird Conservation Nepal.
According to him, the population of this bird has decreased almost by half compared to the past. Dagaura reasoned that this is because of the decline in fish, frogs, snakes and other insects which cranes feed on.
A water bird census carried out recently counted only two cranes at Chawanni wetland and eight at another wetland of Beldandi Rural Municipality in the district. Locals said 15-20 cranes could be seen at one place before.
People kill cranes for meat and eggs. They are hunted during the monsoon season. Conservationists and stakeholders see the need of conducting awareness raising programs for the conservation of wetland for protecting this endangered bird.
The National Parks and Wildlife Act, 2029BS has listed the crane as a protected bird. It is included in Annex 2 of CITIES and in the 'sensitive' list of IUCN's the Red Book.
Cranes hatch their chicks in June and July after farmers complete planting paddy saplings. They hatch and rear chicks at safe places in the wetland area. They are also considered as social creatures and live in pairs. The bird lays only two eggs during the breeding season, said ornithologist Dagaura.
The chicks live with their mothers for five-six months. The birds are found in Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Banke, Dang, Chitwan and Kalikich pond of Shuklaphanta National Park in Kanchanpur and Beldandi, the buffer zone of the park. It is estimated that there are around 10-15 cranes in Kanchanpur.
Ornithologists put the number of this bird at 400-800 in Nepal. The bird is also found in Australia, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan and Vietnam. There are 15 species of cranes in the world and four in Nepal. ‘Laxman’ crane was seen in Kailali this year after two decades.
As per the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act-2029, those who kill rare birds including cranes face Rs 15,000-Rs 30,000 fine, or three months imprisonment or both.