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The white-naped crane released into the wild after wintering in the Rehab Center “TIGR”

08 april 2020
The staff of the Wildlife Management Department, the Far Eastern Environmental Agency (Rosprirodnadzor) and the Rehabilitation Center “TIGR” have released the white-naped crane into the wild in Primorsky province. The rare bird was under the patronage of WWF Russia and in the Year of the Crane it will increase the population of its flock in the wild.
The white-naped crane was released on 7 April in Primorye on the Khanka lowland, in the area of buffer zone of the Khanka Lake Nature Reserve, the same place where this rare Red List bird was found exhausted and rescued by rangers in November 2019. This young white-naped crane spent the whole winter at Rehabilitation Center “TIGR” in the village of Alekseevka of Primorsky province. Here it was examined, fed, and finally, with a diagnosis of “healthy, ready for release into the wild” and permission of Rosprirodnadzor in hands, the crane was placed into a transport cage and taken to the place of release.
White-naped crane in transpoting cage on the way to freedom_Rehab Center TIGR
Rehab Center "TIGR"

According to Viktor Kuzmenko, director of the Rehabilitation Center “TIGR”

“To everyone's joy, right after the bird left the cage it immediately has taken the wing and headed towards the Khanka Lake, to the breeding site of its relatives. And make the snow is not a problem, this is the last, spring snow, it is not harmful for our pet, and the cranes have already arrived from warm places. For us, this is the first experience of wintering and releasing the crane, we were a little worried, but the bird lived up to our hopes, it coped with the difficult situation and successfully completed the rehabilitation course”.

Release of the crane into the wild

The white-naped crane became the first rare heat-loving bird, which got at the Rehab Center in winter. Due to circumstances, the bird did not fly to warmer places and without the help of people would simply die in snow and frost. A medical storage room was adapted for a temporary house for the crane; a comfortable temperature was maintained here and a balanced diet was provided. WWF Russia took care of the bird. Before the release into the wild, the crane was replaced into an enclosure, which was built with WWF support last year for rehabilitation of the Far Eastern storks and turned out to very useful now for the crane.
Moments of release
Rehab Center "TIGR"

According to Anna Serdyuk, PhD, senior project coordinator for protected areas of WWF Russia Amur Branch: 

“Release of the crane into the wild is a real celebration for everyone who participated in its temporary stay. This crane is in excellent physical form and has no injuries. Judging by the plumage and face mask, our crane is two years old. So, there is a chance that this year it will be able to find a mate out of its relatives who have already arrived in the Amur River basin from Japan, from the main wintering site of the white-naped cranes on Izumi Island, from the Korean Peninsula and from “winter apartments” in China. Ornithologists constantly observe white-naped cranes on the flyway in the Khanka Lake Nature Reserve, as well as the nests arranged on the ground, near ponds and swamps. The main thing is not to disturb and protect these crane habitats from fires. ”

Initiated by WWF-Russia, the International Crane Protection Fund and the Eurasia Cranes Working Group declared 2020 the International Year of the Crane. The reason was the decline of the crane populations of East Asia. The Russian Bird Conservation Union has selected the crane as the Bird of 2020 in Russia.

The white-naped crane, one of 6 species of cranes found in the Amur River basin, included into threatened species list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in the Red Book of the Russian Federation.

According to Anna Serdyuk, WWF of Russia, white-naped crane, as well as the Far Eastern stork, can rightly be called indicators of the state of freshwater ecosystems: “According to the winter census data for 2018, the world population of white-naped crane is estimated at 6250-6750 individuals. There are no recent estimates of the population size in Russia. But the current global trend for white-naped crane is negative - its number continues to decline. Although in some areas the situation is stable, for example, in Primorye. The well-being of this bird depends on anthropogenic factors. Experts estimate Russian habitats capacity allows more than 500 breeding pairs, however, census shows that no more than 150 pairs were ever registered throughout Russia”.

The Rehabilitation Center “TIGR” operates with the support of WWF Russia, the Amur Tiger Center and the Presidential Grants Fund.

For additional information please contact
Lead Project Coordinator