Phobjikha and Gangtey Goenpa
Every year about 500 cranes migrate to Bhutan in the winter; mostly in Phobjikha, the kingdom’s largest wetland and most important black-necked crane habitat. In recognition of Phobjikha’s importance to the birds, a conservation area was established in the valley in 2003.
The conservation festival takes place in November, when the cranes return to Bhutan from Tibet for the winter. The festival also aims at strengthening traditional celebrations to help increase villagers’ awareness of the birds’ importance.
Known as thrung thrung karm, the cranes symbolize longevity to the Bhutanese and are deemed holy. Locals believe that the circling of the cranes as they come into land confers a special blessing, and marks as the time to sow wheat.