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The Year of Oriental stork is launched in the Amur-Heilong ecoregion

02 february 2018
On February 2, on the World Wetlands Day, the campaign devoted to the Year of Oriental stork is launched in the Amur-Heilong ecoregion. The highlight of the year will be the census of this rare bird on its entire range in Russia and China.

WWF Russia and the Amur Coalition of environmental NGOs announced 2018 the year of Oriental stork. This rare beautiful bird is called the winged symbol of the Amur River – the Oriental stork is nesting only in the Amur River basin: in Amurskaya, Evreiskaya, Khabarovsky and Primorsky provinces in Russia and in the Northeast of China. Its wintering grounds are located in the Yangze River valley in China.

Oriental stork - symbol of the Amur River
Michelle & Peter Wong

Compare to the European white stork the Oriental stork is larger in size and has a black bill. It has a discrete character: Oriental storks never build nests on the roofs of houses, this bird is used to build nests far from humans in the remote areas in groves or on the trees near lakes, rivers and wetlands. The main problem of the Oriental stork conservation is the habitat loss due to human activity impact. Reclamation of marshlands in China, fires on the territory of Russia destroys trees with stork nests, depriving it of food resources.

Oriental stork - symbol of the Amur River
Yury Gafarov / WWF Russia

The Oriental stork is WWF’s flag species because this bird is an indicator of pure freshwater ecosystems of the Amur ecoregion. Being on the top of food pyramid, the Oriental stork is very sensitive to water and soil pollution, draining of flood plains, changes in climate conditions. Due to wide use of DDT, storks disappeared from Japan and South Korea last century.

According to Anna Barma, head of WWF Russia Amur branch: “At present, 95% of Oriental stork nests are located in Russia within the Amur River basin. The world population of this rare species is estimated at less than 4000 birds. We hope to receive more precise data after the census that will be carried out in February. During this period the wetlands of the Amur basin are frozen and it is possible to conduct patrolling and searching of the nests that are well observed from snowmobiles. Last time this kind of work was held 13 years ago. In the year of Oriental stork the census will be conducted on its entire range including the north of China and main wintering grounds in the south of China. In Spring, when birds return to their nesting grounds, it will be necessary to count the number of pairs and chicks. For this purpose the experts will use ATVs, helicopter and drones. Moreover, in the Year of Oriental stork new artificial tripods will be installed, old nests fixed, each of them will have the passport and will be marked on the map; the chicks will be fitted with satellite trackers; fire preventive treatment will be carried out for trees with nests. All year round the public environmental campaign will be organized including a series of events devoted to the symbol of the Amur in the whole Amur River basin.
Oriental stork - symbol of the Amur River
Ilya Ukolov / WWF Russia

The working meeting of Russian and Chinese experts engaged in conservation of this rare bird already took place in November 2017 in Bolonsky Nature Reserve in Russia. It was decided to launch the year of Oriental stork on February 2, on the World Wetlands Day, because wetlands play a key role for waterfowl populations. In April-May, 2018, the Oriental Stork  Day will be celebrated in protected areas of the Amur basin – the habitat of this rare bird.

The scientific conference in Blagoveshensk will sum up the results of the year of Oriental stork – 2018. It will gather the experts from Russia, China, Japan, USA, Korea and other countries.

 

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