RANGOON — Fauna & Flora International (FFI) said it has made an unusual sighting of a large number of sarus cranes in the wetlands surrounding Indawgyi Lake in Kachin State, northern Burma
FFI said in a statement that it was undertaking a water bird census when Ngwe Lwin and a team of FFI ornithologists and Win Zaw Lun, a ranger of Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary, spotted the birds.
“First we just saw their charismatic red heads sticking out of the tall green grass, but through our telescopes we soon spotted the amazing number of nine individuals,” said Ngwe Lwin, FFI’s Terrestrial Conservation Program Coordinator.
“Finding this large group of sarus crane in Indawgyi area has shown us that this species, which is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, is still safe in the Indawgyi area.”
Previously, two or three cranes had been spotted at the lake, while the birds are frequently seen in Arakan State and the Irrawaddy Delta.
Sarus cranes are large non-migratory birds found in parts of the Indian Subcontinent, Indochina and Australia. The cranes in Burma belong to the subspecies of the eastern sarus crane Grus antigone sharpii that formerly occurred throughout Indochina.
The species, which at a height of up to 1.8 meters is the tallest of the flying birds, can be found in small numbers in Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia, but has not been seen in Laos, Thailand and southern China in many years.
“We have alerted local communities not to destroy their nests or to attempt to catch the cranes,” said Ngwe Lwin, who is educating local communities around the lake.
FFI said it is planning to carry out a specific sarus crane survey to gain greater knowledge and help determine the threats to the species.