Decision : CONF 204 IV.B.22
Keoladeo National Park (India)
The Bureau recalled the fact that the Committee had previously expressed concerns regarding the decrease in the population of wintering Siberian cranes returning to this site and management problems, such as the over-growth of grasses, forming a thick mat in some areas were adversely affecting the breeding habitat of the Siberian cranes. Records maintained by Park management indicated that the wintering population of Siberian cranes, estimated at about 38 in 1985-86 when the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List, had dropped to 5 in 1992-93; no Siberian cranes were seen in Keoladeo during 1993-95. In 1996-97 three Siberian cranes have returned to Keoladeo National Park.
The Bureau noted that the State Party, recognizing that the decrease in the number of Siberian cranes arriving to winter at Keoladeo may be attributable to the intensity of hunting and other threats prevailing along the migratory route of the species, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the eight countries (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakstan, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) with whom it shares the range of the central and western Asian populations of the Siberian crane. UNEP, which hosts the Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), International Crane Foundation (ICF) and the Wild Birds Society of Japan are also signatories to the MOU, under which an action plan foresees: (i) the release of captive-bred Siberian cranes to augment wild populations; and (ii) capturing of Siberian cranes and the deployment of satellite transmitters on the cranes for tracking their migratory route from their wintering areas in Keoladeo to spring breeding grounds in other countries. At the site level, the management has introduced a controlled burning and cutting regime for grasses in order to limit their growth from negatively impacting the breeding habitats of the cranes and closed the Park for grazing by cattle belonging to local villagers. The Bureau urged the Centre to cooperate with the CMS Secretariat and support the implementation of the action plan.