The Wildlife Institute of India and the Zoological Survey of India recently conducted an assessment of the population of black-necked cranes.

Key points:

  • As per a survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India in 2016-17 in the Ladakh region, the population size of the black-necked crane was around 66-69 individuals.
  • In Arunachal Pradesh, a small population of approximately 11 cranes arrives during the winter months.

About Black-Necked Cranes (ADD DIAGRAM)

Appearance: They have a distinctive black neck and head, with a contrasting white body, red crown patch, and black tail feathers.

  • They stand around 55-59 inches tall with a wingspan of 90-96 inches.

Habitat: They are primarily found in high-altitude regions of Central Asia. Specifically, its range includes parts of India, Bhutan, China, and Tibet.

  • In India, they are commonly observed in regions such as Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir, as well as Arunachal Pradesh.
  • These birds inhabit alpine meadows, wetlands, and river valleys at elevations ranging from 8,000 to 15,000 feet above sea level. They breed in marshy areas and nest on the ground.
  • Migration: Seasonal migration between breeding and wintering grounds, observed in regions like Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh in India during winter.
  • Cultural Significance: The people in Sangti, Zemithang, and Chug are mostly Monpas, who follow Tibetan Buddhism, which considers the black-necked crane as an embodiment of the sixth Dalai Lama. Thus, they revere the bird.
  • Feeding Habits: Primarily herbivorous, feeding on roots, tubers, grains, and insects in wetland habitats, foraging in shallow water and marshes.


  • Loss of habitat is occurring due to development projects taking place on the wetlands.
  • ‘Feral (domestic) dogs’ cause damage to their eggs and chicks.
  • Increasing grazing pressure on the limited pastures near the wetlands.

Measures to Protect the Black-necked Crane:

Conservation Status:

  • IUCN status: Near Threatened
  • Listed in Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Listed in Appendix I of CITES and the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS).

Habitat Conservation:

  • Important habitats designated as Protected Areas, e.g., Changthang Sanctuary, Ladakh.
  • Tso Kar Wetlands Complex designated as a Ramsar Site.

Policy Framework:

  • National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-2031) includes specific chapters and actions for wildlife conservation.
  • Financial assistance provided to States/Union Territories under the ‘Development of Wildlife Habitats’ scheme.
  • Guidelines issued under Section 33 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, for management planning of the Protected Area.

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