Ornithologists of the Daursky Nature Reserve completed crane census in Zabaikalsky province
The most "crane" place in the Amur River basin is the southern part of Dauria, where all 6 crane species keep on the shores of steppe lakes and rivers, and 4 of them have nesting grounds. It is no coincidence that the crane has become a symbol of the Daursky Nature Reserve.
Ornithologists of the Daursky Reserve have launched the crane census in 2019. Then, on a tiny two-seater airplane, it was possible to survey a huge territory of potential habitats of white-naped cranes in the territory of Duldurginsky, Akshinsky, Kyrinsky, Krasnochikoisky, Uletovsky, Khiloksky and Chita regions of Zabaikalsky province. In 2020, the survey was continued using ground-based methods: the Argun River and areas not covered by last year's aerial survey in the Onon River floodplain were explored. The main attention was paid to the extremely rare and endangered white-naped and red-crowned cranes. Along the way, all other cranes were taken into account: gray, black, Siberian Cranes, Demoiselles.
Some of the reasons for this decline in numbers are common for both species, explains Oleg Goroshko. First of all, it is a perennial drought that lasted more than 15 years and caused the disappearance of a significant part of crane habitats. Huge damage to cranes is caused by annual spring fires in river floodplains, which burn out the nests with eggs. Argun is especially poor in this respect, most of the floodplain turns into a black lifeless desert in spring. Spring hunting is extremely dangerous as well. Shooting, noise, people and dogs in the nesting sites make cranes leave their nests. As a result, the offspring dies: the eggs cool down, and some of them, left without protection, are eaten by predators. And on the border Russian-Chinese river Argun there are additional serious threats - a large-scale water intake from the river for the economic needs of people and the construction of dams, which leads to the fact that under drought conditions there is almost no water left in the river. And the one that remains is heavily contaminated as a result of human activities.
At the moment, the main habitats of white-naped cranes in Zabaikalsky province are located on the Onon tributary of the Borzya River next to the Daursky Nature Reserve and the Valley of Dzeren Nature Reserve. Therefore, ecologists are making every effort to ensure that cranes can breed here safely, but, unfortunately, this is not easy to do, since nesting sites are located outside protected areas. The main threat for birds on Borza is spring hunting and fires. The staff of the reserve is trying to monitor the fires and extinguish them in advance together with local people. With spring hunting it is more difficult, because cranes nest in hunting grounds of general access. This year, the spring hunt was not opened due to the coronavirus, but in previous years it happened that the overwhelming majority of the offspring of rare birds died because of hunters.