© Pankaj Chandan/WWF-India

Black-necked crane

Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Black-necked crane

  • Scientific Name

    Grus nigricollis

  • Height

    135 cm

  • Weight

    5- 6 kg.

  • Population

    About 11,000

  • Status

    Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and as Endangered on the IUCN Red List


Both the sexes are almost of the same size but male is slightly bigger than female. The upper long neck, head, primary and secondary flight feathers and tail are completely black and body plumage is pale gray/whitish. A conspicuous red crown adorns the head. The bill is greenish and the legs and feet are black. The juveniles have a brownish head and neck and plumage is slightly paler than that of adult.

Conservation Issues

The major threat to the successful breeding of black-necked crane is the damage to the eggs and chicks, caused by feral dogs. These dogs are owned both by armed forces as well as by the local nomads. Another threat to the bird is the loss of habitat. The human pressure on the wetlands, the primary habitat of cranes, has increased tremendously over the last decade. The increased grazing pressure on the limited pastures near the wetlands is also leading to the degradation of the wetland habitat.

WWF-India’s Initiatives

For over one decade, WWF-India in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu & Kashmir, has been working towards conservation of high altitude wetlands,with black-necked crane as a priority species in Ladakh region. At the regional level WWF is working to use this species for high altitude wetland conservation in Tibetan Plateau and as a vehicle for International Cooperation between India, China and Bhutan. Studies on the status and breeding productivity of the species have been conducted. Regular education and awareness activities for the protection of the species are conducted for local communities, Indian Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Tourists and Tour Operators. Local educational institutions and local youth are also being involved for the long term conservation of the species. In Arunachal Pradesh, WWF is working for the conservation of the small wintering population.

Habitat and Distribution

The high altitude wetlands in the Tibetan plateau are the main breeding ground of the species. These wetlands with small mounds provide an excellent habitat to the birds for breeding. These birds winter at lower altitudes where they feed mainly on the leftovers in rice and potato fields. This species is found in India, China and Bhutan and breeds in high altitude wetlands in the Tibetan plateau at elevations of 2950-4900 m above mean sea level. High altitude marshes and lakes of Tibetan Plateau (Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Gansu), Sichuan (China), and eastern Ladakh (India) are the known breeding grounds of black-necked crane. The major wintering flocks are in Tibet, Yunnan and Guizhou (China) and Bhutan (Phobjika and Bomdaling Valleys). A small wintering population is also found in Sangti and Zimithang valleys of Arunachal Pradesh in India.
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