From Russia to South Korea: new scientific data on Oriental stork migration
The life story of these birds is quite interesting. One of them is a stork, which successfully recovered after the course of rehabilitation at the Rehab Center “TIGR” and was released into the wild in August 2020 in Evreiskaya province. Another bird was equipped with a GPS transmitter in summer 2019 in Amurskaya province during the second year of the implementation of the program to study stork migration.
Unique information about two Oriental storks tagged in Russia with GPS transmitters wintering in South Korea was received in early December 2020. Experts from the Endangered Species Restoration Center of the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea helped to check the signals of the transmitters, track these birds and find out their condition.
Tagged storks from Russian Amur basin in the group of birds on the wintering sites in South Korea. Video by Jongmin Yoon
50 years ago, the breeding population of the Oriental stork disappeared in the Republic of Korea due to heavy use of herbicide, with the last bird recorded here in 1971. In 1994, a joint Russian-Korean project to reintroduce the species on the Korean Peninsula was launched thanks to the active participation of Yury Darman, Ph.D., the chairman of the Russian Working Group for the Oriental Stork Conservation, until recently the director of WWF-Russia Amur branch, and Vladimir Andronov, Ph.D., the head of the Directorate of Protected Areas Zapovednoye Priamurye. In the mid-90s, these two scientists worked together in Khingansky Nature Reserve and were inspired by the idea of stork conservation.
As a follow up of Russia and Korea interaction, which began a quarter of a century ago, at the end of 2019, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between WWF-Russia, the Khanka Nature Reserve and the Endangered Species Restoration Center of the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea, with the aim of preserving the Oriental stork. As a part of the work under the Memorandum, in 2020, 8 artificial supports were erected in the Khanka Reserve and the Khasan Nature Park, and the count of this rare bird was conducted. Moreover, in 2021, in collaboration with WWF-Korea the work will be carried out to increase the carrying capacity of the breeding grounds as well as to tag and monitor Oriental storks.
The Oriental stork is an important migratory bird species in the Amur-Heilong River Basin. It is an indicator to measure the quality of wetland habitat and ecological security. Under the pressure of human activities and development of modern agriculture, the wetlands in the Amur-Heilongjiang River Basin, are showing a trend of disappearance and degradation; it is the habitat of waterbirds represented by the oriental stork. WWF China has made many efforts in Oriental stork conservation and its habitat, including supporting population monitoring, building artificial nests, and conducting management training. Meanwhile, WWF-China has been working closely with the provincial and local authorities and scientific research institutes to compile technical instruction manuals and promote the conservation experience. It has effectively increased the breeding population of Oriental stork.