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Wild cranes get by with a little help from their friends

Posted by: Sergei M.Smirenski, Woodland Park Zoo Partner for Wildlife
Photos by Vasili Dugintsov, courtesy of Cranes of Asia

Editor note: This update just came in from Woodland Park Zoo’s Partner for Wildlife, Cranes of Asia: Muraviovka Park. The conservation project’s director, Sergei Smirenski, shares how his crew and community came together to help endangered cranes get through some hard times this spring.

Cranes salute the coming of spring.

Now that it’s spring, cranes and storks are trying to make their way back to Muraviovka Park quickly from their migration routes in order to occupy and defend their nest sites from other cranes. However, due to the unusually cold and snowy mid-spring, the southern part of the Zeya-Bureya plain in the park is still covered by more than 20 inches of snow, and lakes are frozen. The cranes and storks are arriving to find that there is no food available.

Cranes search for food in the snow.

Cranes can dig through the snow cover and survive for a while without food, but 10 days after they arrived, the conditions still hadn't changed. Desperate, some of them went searching for food along roads, some even in vegetable gardens in villages. We knew this couldn't go on for long or the cranes would starve. We needed to take action.

The team heads into the park carrying sacks of food to help the starving cranes transition into spring. 

We posted an appeal for extra support to the Russian Bird Conservation Union and sent it to our friends. Fortunately, we immediately received support from subscribers of one of the local newspapers and from the bank that the park uses. Our team used the support to buy fish in Blago and ship it to the park. With the help of farmhands and interns from Germany and Blago, we spread the fish and also wheat from the 2012 crop harvest all across the park. Directors of two nearby co-ops helped us acquire small grain and corn as well.

Spreading food across the park for the birds.

The birds ate. They ate well. And soon the snow will melt, and the spring season will be back on track for the cranes and storks. Until then, we’re grateful for the support we received to help us give these cranes and storks a leg up on the season.


Anonymous said…
Beautiful photos! Great job, guys!