As summer approaches, sarus cranes take shelter at Keoladeo National Park. Here is a picture showing the cranes (Grus antigone) from a satellite area about 80 km from Keoladeo National Park, a world heritage and ramsar site. Keoladeo is about 180 km south of Delhi, the capital of India. It is not only an important breeding ground for many resident wildlife species but also an important staging and wintering ground for many resident and migratory water birds due to its protected area status by the government.These are the largest cranes of the world, and are wetland health bioindicators but are also well adapted to the semi-arid environments of Bharatpur. In this picture, they are feeding in the agricultural fields on wheat and probably large insects found in it, thereby helping farmers by keeping a check on pests. From farmlands they also ingest pesticides which is real cause for worry for conservationists. Their wetland breeding homes are shrinking and under serious threat of wetland encroachment by ever-increasing human population which results in conflicts over water sharing between people and wildlife.
SREE (Society for Research in Ecology and Environment) is working hard in Bharatpur and the surrounding Braj Region to conserve these wetlands and species such as the sarus crane. Whether large or small, wetlands should be managed sustainably through ecotourism and by other ways of involving local people and livelihoods. The awareness-raising among the local community about the important role that these birds play in the ecosystem is the only hope by which these beautiful creatures can live for long with us.