On December 25, 1994 an agreement between Lumbini Development Trust and ICF was signed for a 50-year lease of 265 acres of land to establish the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary (LCS) in Lumbini. Initially, five artificial wetlands were created, and it wasn’t long before Sarus Cranes began nesting in this new example of harmony between man and nature. Since its inception, the LCS has recorded over 210 species of birds, and 90 –100 pairs of Sarus Cranes nesting in and around its territory.
The LCS’ objectives are to:
Biodiversity Conservation Initiative for Greater Lumbini Area
Lumbini area is the home of breeding Sarus Cranes. We continue field research and monitoring of Sarus Crane and its habitat.
Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it.
Local farmers are our main partners for community based nature conservation
Together for a shared future
Walking our nature trail gives an opportunity to connect with the diverse wildlife and ecosystems
If we allow one young kid to discover love for birding, we have one new champion for nature conservation
It is believed that the above words were famously uttered in support as young Prince Siddhartha tried to rescue an injured Sarus Crane. Later as the young prince came to be known as the Buddha these words became an epitome of Buddhist viewpoint on nature conservation. Once saved by the Buddha, the Sarus Cranes and their habitats are threatened once again, Lumbini Crane Sanctuary is trying to save the Sarus cranes and their habitat in his birthplace once again several millennia later.
The Sarus Crane holds a special place within the ancient culture of Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. 2,500 years ago Prince Siddhartha Gautama fought to save this magnificent bird, and today his people wish to continue honoring this noble mission. Despite its ability to adapt to recent changes in the environment, the Sarus Crane faces serious challenges to survival in Nepal. The Lumbini Crane Sanctuary is dedicated to preserving its habitat, and wishes to take advantage of a variety of positive variables which could nurture the development of this important conservation site. The intimate link between Buddhism and environmentalism, and tourism, in particular, provide opportunities for growth and sustainability.
The following vision explores the potential benefits of transforming 256 acres of land currently leased by International Crane Foundation in the Lumbini word heritage master plan area, in to a Nature and Wetland Center with special focus on Sarus Crane. By offering educational attractions, and nature walks to visitors, the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary could support its own land and research, and extend the benefits of its important work to the local community and the international conservationist community.
Finally, it explores the unique location and cultural- historical value of Lumbini has the potential to set a global example of conservation. As both Nepal and the UN promote Lumbini as a center for world peace, the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary could play a special role in representing the relationship between conservation and the Buddha’s teachings of non-violence.
THE SARUS CRANE IN NEPAL
The Sarus Crane is a historical symbol of peace and love in Nepal. Indeed, the tallest flying bird in the world is like an ancient reminder of this noble culture that valued the preservation of life above all else. Many wild species that once roamed free in this land have gone extinct, but the Sarus Crane continues to nest in the Terai, cohabiting farms with livestock and the villagers who care for them. Despite the cacophony of traffic, these magnificent birds still manage to raise their offspring here as a testimony of their special place within this ancient culture.
Despite evidence of their ability to adapt, Sarus Cranes face increasing challenges to survival from rapid urbanization, the use of pesticides, reduced water flows, and industrialization. Lumbini is the birthplace of the Buddha and thus receives near a million pilgrims and tourists from around the world each year. As a result, the natural habitats and nesting sites of Sarus Cranes are disappearing to accommodate new guest houses, businesses, villages, and temples. Currently there are 200 – 300 pairs of Sarus Cranes nesting in and around the Lumbini Masterplan area and the neighboring farmlands.
THE LUMBINI CRANE SANCTUARY
In 1989, a joint effort between Nepalese crane conservationists and the International Crane Foundation (ICF), USA gave rise to important research on the status of the Sarus Crane in Nepal. This collaborative work recognized the natural ecosystems of the Lumbini Garden, the birthplace of the Buddha, as an ideal site for a crane conservation initiative.
On December 25, 1994 an agreement between Lumbini Development Trust and ICF was signed for a 50-year lease of 256 acres of land to establish the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary (LCS) in Lumbini. Initially, five artificial wetlands were created, and it wasn’t long before Sarus Cranes began nesting in this new example of harmony between man and nature. Since its inception, the LCS has recorded over 210 species of birds, and 200 – 300 pairs of Sarus Cranes nesting in and around its territory.
The LCS’ objectives are to:
v Restore and recreate the natural habitat diversity of the Nepalese Central Terai, with special consideration for the Sarus Crane
v Involve the local community in the conservation and management of their natural resources
v Establish an education facility and wild garden in demonstration of Buddha’s love for nature and the relevance of his teachings for modern conservation
TOURISM AND THE ENVIRONMENT
For over two millennia, people have come to the birthplace of the Buddha from all around the world. In 2014 alone, nearly 1.2 million tourists visited Lumbini, a 40% increase from the previous year. As the number of tourists continues to rise each year, both new threats and new opportunities arise as well. If not managed properly, the accommodation of this growing number of visitors to this sacred land could be destructive to the natural environment, and thereby detrimental to the Sarus Crane population. This mass tourism, however, could also become a steady stream of support for Lumbini conservation efforts. Pilgrims and visitors come to Lumbini seeking a meaningful experience. LCS believes we have the opportunity to inspire and educate these groups, to help create a sense of respect and awareness for nature conservation.
In addition to its historical and cultural value, a science and nature conservation museum in the sanctuary will help educate hundreds of thousands of school children that come to visit Lumbini annually from Nepal and neighboring India. The need for science and conservation education in South Asia is paramount, and is especially needed to educate and train the future generation of local conservationists. With inspiring, educational, and engaging displays, young students and visitors could admire what a precious and beautiful planet we are blessed with and why it needs to be conserved. Various models of ecological sites could also be created, such as wetlands, nesting grounds, wildlife preserves, etc. to engage and encourage visitors to learn. Educational attractions would include:
Bird watching tours and guide services
Annual nesting and hatching survey
Plants of the Buddha tour
Diverse ecological models
BUDDHISM AND CONSERVATION
The links between the birth and life of the Buddha, the natural environment, and the high regard of Buddhism for the preservation of life will be very supportive elements in helping to further develop the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary. Lord Buddha’s life is directly related with trees. He was born under the Sal tree. He meditated under the Pipal tree. He attained enlightenment under a tree and first preached under a tree. In ancient texts he is said to have slept under the Neem tree when he was ill, and the Mahāparinirvāna (the great passing away) also took place under a tree. To plant the trees related with the life of the Buddha and to demonstrate the intimate relationship that the Buddha had with trees and forests would emphasize the harmony between the nature and man. Visitors and pilgrims to Lumbini will have the opportunity to admire the magnificent Sarus Crane once cherished by the Buddha and likewise contemplate the intersection of Buddhism and nature. Indeed, Lumbini has the potential to inspire conservation both locally and globally as a model of conservation for other Buddhist pilgrim sites around the world.
CONCLUSION: LUMBINI AS A ROLE MODEL
LCS believes strongly in the potential of these lands to set a global example of the relationships between conservation, non-violence, and peace. As the government of Nepal and the UN jointly promote Lumbini as the birth place of the Buddha and as a world peace center, we believe that we have an incredible opportunity to present the Buddha’s message of conservation, and to once again champion the cause of the Sarus Crane in his birthplace. The construction and management of a Nature Education centre would educate the local population and hundreds of thousands of visitors who visit Lumbini annually on the importance of wildlife and environmental preservation. If the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary can become successful and sustainable through such an expansion, it will be a noble representation and respectable model of conservation for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, worldwide. The Lumbini Crane Sanctuary would like to remind the world that life belongs to those who preserve it, and that it is our moral responsibility to give a chance to every other life form to flourish as a symbol of peace. There would be no greater fulfillment of this ideal than the reestablishment of the Sarus Crane population and the restoration of its natural habitat in the Lumbini Garden