Tuesday, August 7, 2007 - 4:40 PM

COS 47-10: Challenges involved in restoring habitats for the wintering cranes in Saurashtra, India

Rajesh J. Lathigara, City of San Jose and Vinod C. Soni, Saurashtra University.

Half of the total crane species are endangered and several others are rapidly approaching the threatened status. The success of the other species was largely attributed in part to their ability to forage in agricultural landscapes, unlike the endangered species that are more restricted to an unaltered natural wetland ecosystem.


Saurashtra region of western India is considered as one of the most important wintering grounds of the Demoiselle and Common cranes in Asia. The wintering population of the cranes in Saurashtra has started showing a declining trend in the last decade.


An extensive study on populations, distribution, roost-site selection, feeding ecology, anthropogenic pressure, and impact on agricultural system was conducted to identify the challenges the cranes are facing on their wintering grounds and to propose mitigation measures.


The wintering cranes have almost exclusively adapted to the man made reservoirs for roosting and agricultural fields for foraging increasing conflicting interactions with humans. Characteristics associated with the roost-sites and feeding grounds are delicately inter-twined and balanced to sustain a population of cranes at a site for the entire wintering duration.


Challenges associated with restoring roosting habitats are: proximity to the feeding grounds, domestic and recreational use of the man-made reservoirs, farming along the reservoir beds, over irrigation, invasive shoreline vegetation, and illegal hunting.


On the feeding grounds the challenges include: rapidly changing agricultural practices favoring cash crops, periodic droughts, and perceived crop damage by the cranes.