Saturday, July 22, 2017

Black-necked Cranes of Hanle, Ladakh, India

Black-necked Cranes, Hanle, Ladakh, India
Hanle is a beautiful and scenic village in Ladakh, India. It is well-known for the Hanle Monastery (dating back to the 17th Century).

It is around 254 km from Leh, and takes around 7 hours by road.

Soma was in Hanle in June with a group of bird watchers. I was very affected by a particular incident that Soma narrated, I am sharing it here, the pictures are courtesy Soma Jha:

“On 16th June we arrived in Hanle and went for a spot of birding in the evening. While driving to Hanle we had seen two nesting Black-necked Cranes and now we saw the third one in Hanle. It's a very hopeful scene that promises the propagation of the species especially for a vulnerable bird like this crane.

The next morning when we were passing by this site, we slowed down the car and lo and behold ! we found a furry head and then a second one, peeping over a mound. As we were quite a distance away we really had to make sure with our binocs and 50x zoom cameras. Then the four sentimental fools welcomed the new lives with much laughter and relief, even congratulating the parents who were much vigilant, one of them always staying close to the babies.

We did not visit them on the 18th but on the 19th late morning, we wanted to see how they were doing. On reaching the spot we perceived an ominous emptiness at the site. The two cranes were feeding far off in the fields. We still hoped the chicks had perhaps been hidden somewhere but no such luck. One of cranes gave out this haunting, plaintive call. It bent its neck down and scanned the ground which to me, looked like it was searching, not for food but her babies perhaps.

True this is an everyday occurrence in nature but when you see it happen, the sadness is that much more. The Red Fox could have got them or the Upland Buzzard or the Saker Falcon or even the Pallas's Cat. They have to feed and also nourish their young. We thought about the other two cranes and wondered if their chicks will get a chance to become adults.

Are there any effective means to save and protect them during this vulnerable stage of their lives ?”

Nesting Crane
Black-necked Cranes with chicks, Hanle

Black-necked Crane with chicks
Black-necked Crane in Hanle, Ladakh

Crane habitat, Hanle, Ladakh

About the black-necked cranes- These cranes breed on the Tibetan Plateau and in parts of India and Bhutan. There is deep regard for this bird in Buddhism and it is considered as the state bird in the Jammu and Kashmir state of India. Every year about 100 birds come to India, most of them to Ladakh.. They lay eggs around May and June. They are legally protected in China, India, and Bhutan, but because of loss of habitat, modifications in habitat, their survival is becoming increasingly difficult.

You may also want to read the following post contributed by Soma Jha:Merganser, Bar-headed Goose,and Ruddy Shelduck Chicks pictures from Ladhak, India


magiceye said...

Beautiful images and interesting images.

Anonymous said...

uh-oh. :(

I must say that's a beautiful bird. Are the black-necked-cranes an endangered lot?

Ranjana Jha said...


Thanks so much:)

Ranjana Jha said...

Yes they are...they are protected, but are vulnerable because of the habitat:(