About the Species
The Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) is the only resident crane of India.. Being tall, ca. 155 cm, it is the largest of Indian cranes. It is grey in colour with a naked scarlet-red head and upper neck. There is no clear sexual dimorphism.
Although it is not true, cranes have been documented as a species that pairs for life and this feature has earned respect for the birds in the range of their distribution. Cranes can also serve as an indicator species, indicating at a given point of time the availability of suitable habitats and health of the wetlands on which their very existence depends.
Distribution and Habitat:
Sarus inhabit open, cultivated, well-watered plains, marshlands and jheels and are well known for their ability to live in association with humans. They have been reported to nest in flooded paddy fields and marshes and are distributed in Nepal terai, and the Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Although widespread previously, recent changes in the habitat have reduced the range and population of the species. World Conservation Union (IUCN) and Birdlife International have placed this species under the category ‘Vulnerable’ . In India, this species is included in Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Of the estimated 8,000 to 10,000 birds in the country, 2,500 to 3,000 are found in Uttar Pradesh which has adopted it as the State Bird.
Changes in land use, e.g. extensive cultivation of sugar cane rather than paddy, and loss of wetlands are the major reasons for the decline of the species. Other threats include high-tension electric cables criss-crossing the habitat leading to collision and death, indiscriminate use of pesticides, poaching of adult birds for meat, egg stealing, capture of adult birds for pet trade and disturbance by the farmers in the fields during the nesting period Free ranging dogs, domestic cats and rhesus macaques can be a threat to the species