Phobjikha the place for Black-Neck Crane

The conservation area or habitat in the Phobhjikha Valley, established in 2003 has, not only the black-necked cranes, but also 13 other vulnerable species such as rufous-necked hornbill Aceros nipalensischestnut-breasted partridge Arborophila mandelliiPallas’s fish eagleHaliaeetus leucoryphusnuthatch Sitta Formosa, wood snipe Gallinago nemoricolaBlyth’s tragopan Tragopan blythiigreater spotted eagleClanga clangaimperial eagle Aquila heliaca, Baer’s pochard Aythya baeriHodgson’s bushchat Saxicola insignisdark-rumped swift Apus acuticauda, and grey-crowned prinia Prinia cinereocapilla.The black-necked cranes arrive in this valley in late October and depart in mid February.They feed on the particular type of dwarf bamboos that grow in the wetlands of the valley. The thick grasslands of wetlands are also grazing grounds for a large number of cattle and horses during the summer months that helps the growth of the tender bamboo shoots on which the cranes feed later during the winter season. There were suggestions that the wetlands be drained and used to grow cash crops such as potatoes, which is also the main crop of the valley. Such an action would have deprived the cranes of their main feeding centres. However, Palje “Benjie” Dorji, former Chief Justice of Bhutan, former Minister for Environment and uncle of the present King of Bhutan, as the Chairman of the Royal Bhutan Society and as founder of the Black-necked Conservation Programme prevailed on the Government of Bhutan to drop the proposal to drain the wetlands of the Phobjika Valley to create farms to grow cash rich seed potatoes.