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WWF Russia and WWF China jointly monitor the migration of Oriental white storks released into the wild after rehabilitation
Премия рунета 2017

WWF Russia and WWF China jointly monitor the migration of Oriental white storks released into the wild after rehabilitation

09 october 2020
Two Oriental white storks, rescued this year in Primorye at the Rehabilitation Center “TIGR” and released into the wild in Evreiskaya province, are now staying on the territory of protected areas of the Amur basin on opposite sides of the border. Specialists of WWF-Russia and WWF-China are jointly observing these rare birds.

GPS-transmitters and rings with numbers that WWF-Russia put on the birds before being released into the wild, allows tracking the movement of storks.

Let’s recall that in early July, these two chicks were found in boxes on road in the Khorolsky district of Primorye and taken to the rehabilitation center “TIGR” in an extremely weakened condition. With the support of WWF Russia, the staff of the Center managed to bring the birds back on their feet. The release into the wild took place on August 13 in Evreiskaya province, near the Russian-Chinese border. Here, in the  floodplain of the Middle Amur rich in forage resources, the storks gather before leaving for the wintering grounds. And, starting from mid-September, until the end of October, they fly south in small groups.

WWF Russia and WWF China jointly monitor the migration if Oriental white storks released into the wild after rehabilitation
Elena Starostina / WWF Russia
“Thanks to the signals from GPS transmitters and movement tracks, we can tell exactly where our birds are now. After the release both storks almost immediately headed south from the territory of the Evreiskaya province and stayed in China for almost a month in the Suibinliangjiang Nature Reserve located along the Songhua River. Now one of them has remained in approximately the same area where our colleagues from China tracked him down. The second stork returned to its homeland and is currently located in the Sheremetyevsky Nature Park in the Khabarovsky province, where in 2020, 32 residential nests were recorded - this is a very high density of Oriental stork nests in such a small area (4,714 hectares), - comments Anna Serdyuk, PhD, coordinator of protected areas of WWF Russia Amur branch.
Tracks of the released Oriental storks
WWF Russia

WWF Russia and WWF China are conducting joint observation of these birds. Right after receiving information that they were in the area of Suibinliangjiang Nature Reserve, Heilongjiang Province, WWF China contacted the specialists of the reserve and now, together with the staff of protected area, are monitoring the storks to feel safe during migration.

Flooded Songhua River in September
WWF China
«Our partners from Suibinliangjiang Wetland Nature Reserve, had set out to look for these two oriental white storks the next day after receiving the news. It was September 7th. However, this month Heilongjiang province suffered three typhoons. The Songhua River has been rising, and all the sandbars in the Fujin area have been submerged. When they arrived, they found that they could not get close to the Songhua River at all. Due to the lack of observation equipment, they could not confirm whether the bird they saw with the naked eye was the Oriental White Stork "082". But they think that there should be no threats from human activities, which is good news,” - commented Jiale He, Wildlife Program Officer, WWF China North-East Office.

Both protected areas Suibinliangjiang Nature Reserve in China and the Sheremetyevsky Nature Park in the Khabarovsky province of Russia are part of the Sino-Russian network of bordering protected areas in the Amur River basin. A memorandum on its creation was signed in 2016 between 16 Chinese and 12 Russian protected areas located directly along the border of Russia and China along the Amur and Ussury. Most of these protected areas are important habitats for Oeriental storks. Protected areas of the Amur basin on both sides of the border are the most attractive and safe for rare birds and other animals. It is no coincidence that they were chosen for life by the rehabilitated storks.

Oriental stork - the symbol of the Amur River
Alexander Khitrov / WWF Russia
“Of course, it is impossible to save the Oriental stork without joint efforts of Russia and China. International cooperation has been actively developing since the late 1980s, from the first meeting on the Oriental stork conservation in the Dzhalong Nature Reserve. WWF Russia and WWF China jointly implement a program for the Oriental stork conservation within the Global East-Asian Flyway from the Amur to the Yangtze River, aimed at ensuring safe and comfortable migration of these rare birds”, - said Anna Serdyuk.

According to Anna Serdyuk, radio tracking materials show that during migration the storks slowly roam along the floodplains of the Ussury, Amur and Songhua Rivers, before a long stopover in ​​the Momoge Nature Reserve in Jilin province, China. And then they fly in a narrow corridor between the Gobi Desert and the Bohai Bay. Wintering sites already begin from the Yellow River Delta, but most birds winter in the Poyang Lake in the Yangtze River floodplain. The total migration route can reach 5 thousand kilometers! At the same time, Oriental storks, unlike cranes, do not make long flights. Therefore, it is critically important for birds to have places suitable for stop overs and feeding on the entire flight path, especially in the “bottleneck” in the Baidahe - Tianjin region.

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