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Oriental stork in focus of Russia and Korea cooperation

26 november 2019
WWF Russia, Khanka Nature Reserve and the National Institute of Ecology of South Korea have signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Oriental stork conservation for five years.

The preparation of the document was launched at the International Conference on the Oriental stork and wetlands conservation in the Amur River basin held in Blagoveschensk in 2018. At the conference organized by WWF Russia, the experts from Russia, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea summed up the results of the Oriental stork survey — 2018 and determined further steps on research and protection of the rare bird.

According to Anna Serdyuk (Barma), PhD, senior coordinator on protected areas at WWF Russia Amur branch: «The joint project with South Korea is an opportunity to increase the Oriental stork population and to form a new migration route as a part of the Global East-Asian Flyway. This is necessary to renew the gene pool and preserve sustainable population of Oriental stork on the Korean Peninsula. First, we plan to improve the breeding conditions on the Khanka Lake where 50% of birds is concentrated; and secondly, to mount artificial supports and organize a breeding group of storks on the Tumen River in Khasansky Nature Park. This year a great number of birds were recorded during the seasonal migration: 400 storks for the first time ever! near the Khanka Lake and more than 30 in the Tumen River. One bird from South Korea with a transmitter arrived to the Khanka Lake in summer and returned back. These facts tell us about favorable conditions for expanding the traditional flyway from Russia to China with one more “Korean” route.
Anna Serdyuk (WWF), Yury Sushitsky (Khanka NR), Choi Gi Hyung (NIE) © Jongmin Yoon
© Khanka Lake Nature Reserve
Yury Sushitsky, director of Khanka Lake Nature Reserve © Khanka Lake Nature Reserve
© Khanka Lake Nature Reserve
MoU on the Oriental stork conservation signed between Russia and Korea

The Oriental stork is one of the rarest birds in the Russian Far East. It is endangered and listed in the Red book of the Russian Federation, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and Annex I of CITEC. More than 80% of Oriental stork nests are registered in the Russian part of the Amur River basin. Beyond the territory of Russia the bird breeds in the Northeast China, only single nests are recorded in Japan and South Korea, and winters in the Yangtze River in China.

For many years the nests of Oriental storks were destroyed, birds died on their migration routes and in wintering grounds in China killed by poachers or poisoned baits. Due to wide use of DDT in 1970s storks disappeared in Japan and Korea. At present, these countries put a lot of efforts and funds to restore its population.

Oriental storks in Khanka Nature Reserve
Alexander Khitrov / WWF Russia
«In 1971, the last pair of Oriental storks nested in South Korea came apart due to the death of the male. Thanks to Russian-Korean cooperation, in 1996 the first Oriental storks from Russia were brought to Korea to restore the population. In total, 38 of birds were handed over this period, and at present, 65 Oriental storks have been recorded in South Korea, - said Choi Gi Hyung, executive director of the Research Center for Endangered Species at the National Institute of Ecology of South Korea.
A bird's-eye-view of the Khanka Lake
Dmitry Korobov

Thanks to the signed MoU, new artificial supports for the Oriental stork nests will be mounted in Khanka Nature Reserve. 

«More than half of the Oriental storks arriving in Primorsky province in spring are breeding in Khankaisky Nature Reserve. Today, we have 80 stork nests, 73 of them are suitable for living, and 7 are still non-residential, - comments Yury Sushitsky, director of Khankaisky Nature Reserve. - The lack of suitable trees and human disturbance are the main factors that hold back the population growth. More than 20 years we have been engaged in the construction of artificial supports. Over the past 10 years we mounted 21 supports, on 8 of them storks are already raising chicks. However, the problem is that the supports often fall down from the wind, especially in high water season on the Khanka Lake. We hope that thanks to this project we’ll be able to construct more artificial nests for storks.
Oriental storks on the Tumen River, 07.11.2019
Yury Darman

By signing the MoU three organizations decided to put joint efforts in international cooperation for Oriental stork conservation, in joint research projects with information exchanges organizing scientific and educational meetings.

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