Rising death rate of sarus crane, world’s tallest flying bird, raises concernsLive electricity wires and stray dogs are major threats for sarus cranes.
On Sunday morning, a couple of sarus cranes (Grus antigone) were seen flying above in the skies near Lumbini of Rupandehi district. During their flight, the birds touched a high tension live electricity wire and died on the spot, locals say.
Green Youth of Lumbini, a local club working towards bird conservation, and the Sub-division Forest Office in Bisanpur were immediately informed about the incident. Arjun Kurmi, chief of the club, reached the incident site with his team and so did the representatives of the forest office. They carried out a public inquiry deed and buried the cranes.
According to conservationists, the death of the threatened species bird has been increasing in the country in recent years.
The sarus crane is the world’s tallest flying bird and is mostly found in Indian Sub-continents. The large non-migratory bird was enlisted in the IUCN red list of threatened species in 2000 after its population dwindled.
Ornithologist Hemsagar Baral estimates that there are around 500 sarus cranes in Nepal at present. Among them, about 300 are found in Kapilvastu, Rupandehi and Nawalparasi districts alone.
However, Nepal has seen an increase in the number of the species’ death in recent years, according to conservationists. Live electricity wires and stray dogs are major threats for sarus cranes. The birds are at risk of being electrocuted when they come in contact with live electricity wires and become prey to stray dogs while on the fields foraging for food.
“In June, a stray dog chased a sarus crane in Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality and killed it,” Kurmi said. Similarly, in March, another crane was electrocuted as it touched an electricity wire the same local unit.
“Around a dozen sarus cranes have died in the area in recent years. The number of deaths has risen now,” said Kurmi.
“I spotted 98 sarus cranes on the banks of the Danav river two years ago,” said another ornithologist Dinesh Giri. He underscored the immediate need to conserve the sarus crane’s habitat and demanded authorities to manage electricity wires and stray dogs.
Abadhesh Kumar Tripathi, the vice-chairman of Lumbini Development Trust, said they were working to adopt an undergrounding method in the area under the Lumbini Master Plan.
“We will soon complete the work so that birds and other animals are safe from naked wires. The municipality should also follow the same technology in the area,” said Tripathi.
Although various conservation programmes have been launched to conserve the sarus crane in the area, the efforts have not been as effective as expected. The Lumbini Development Trust and International Crane Foundation had jointly built a crane sanctuary in the area, but the bird does not prefer staying in the refuge, say conservationists.
The Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality has also been working to conserve the threatened bird species.
“We have started building a wetland in Balarampur and a bird park in Aama Village. We will soon launch other programmes to conserve the sarus cranes,” said Manmohan Chaudhary, mayor of the local body.