Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh, February 12, 2018: ‘Where the Sarus Sings’, a documentary on sarus crane conservation initiatives effected in eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the UP Forest Department, was released by the Hon’ble Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during the inaugural session of the 3rd International Bird Festival at Dudhwa National Park on February 9. Dara Singh Chauhan, Hon’ble Minister, Forest Department, Upendra Tiwari, State Minister, Forest Department, and the Principal Secretary of the Forest Department were also present on the occasion.
The sarus crane is the world’s tallest flying bird, India’s only resident breeding crane and the State Bird of Uttar Pradesh. While the larger sarus population in the western part of the state has received the most attention, there is a significant population in the natural wetlands and agricultural fields of eastern UP as well. Since 2013, the Sarus Crane Conservation Project, run across 10 districts of the region by WTI in collaboration with Tata Trusts and the UP Forest Department, has sought to monitor and protect this hitherto neglected population.
The project works through local volunteers (called ‘Sarus Mitra’ or Friends of the Sarus), Tata Trust partner NGOs, and Sarus Protection Committees formed from village communities that have, without financial inducement, stepped forward to conserve this iconic bird and the wetlands that sustain it.
Dr Rupak De, Principle Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force (UP) speaks in the 20-minute film of the steps taken by Forest Department’s Sarus Protection Society for the conservation of the sarus.
“The film highlights the threats the bird faces especially due to the proliferation of power transmission lines, and the changes in crop-pattern from rice-wheat to sugarcane, which is not preferred by the sarus”, said WTI’s Prof BC Choudhury, Principal Investigator of the Sarus Crane Conservation Project.
“WTI is working with farmers and other stakeholders to improve the species’ breeding success and protect its habitat. Nearly 500 sarus nests have been protected and 30 important wetlands identified in the project area since 2013”, said WTI’s Arshad Hussain, point-person for the project’s on-ground implementation.
“We aim to bring some of these wetlands under a participatory management regime and promote wise use of their resources for biodiversity conservation and continued ecosystem services to the local communities”, declared Dr Samir Kumar Sinha, Head of WTI’s Species Recovery division.
Produced by SwRa Productions and funded by the Sarus Protection Society, ‘Where the Sarus Sings’ outlines this community-driven approach to conservation. The film will be released across social media channels soon.