Symbols of long life, fidelity, and the link between earth and heaven, cranes are sacred throughout the world. Can this special connection help protect cranes and the wild places where they live, while benefiting us too? We have reason to believe so.
This spring, as the Sarus Cranes returned to the lush wetlands of the Mekong Delta, school children, teachers, and artists gathered to celebrate cranes in southwestern Vietnam at the site of our Phu My Wetland Conservation Project.
Through the Phu My Project we are working to protect remaining wetlands by demonstrating their economic value to local villagers. The villagers traditionally use wetland plants to weave sleeping and work mats for household use. We built upon this tradition and developed a local industry based on using sustainably-harvested wetland plants to manufacture woven products, such as purses and storage containers. These beautiful, hand-crafted products are selling well, with the proceeds supporting both good-paying jobs and conservation of the native wetlands. It’s a win-win!
At the heart of this spring’s crane festival was a children’s art fair and contest focused on wetlands and cranes. More than two hundred school children and teachers attended, and ninety young artists enthusiastically completed their drawings or paintings for the competition.
We love how the winning artwork captures our sentiments exactly – when people embrace their wetlands, cranes, and people are happy! The art fair was one of the activities made possible by a recent grant from the Disney Conservation Fund and the CSLA Chairman’s Trust Fund.
With support from International Crane Foundation Board Member, Heather Henson, we were able to bring Vietnamese water puppet and kite flying shows to the festival.
In addition to the crane festival, we are piloting crane and wetland education activities for area children. We are making education fun for the students by offering Disney movie time at three area schools each month. Before the movie, we present a short slide show about the Phu My wetlands, wildlife, and how to protect them. Learning about the environment while watching movies seems to work well! In the future, it will be the responsibility of these students to continue protecting their local wetlands. Our hope is that they will embrace these important lessons and their own connection to the sacred cranes.
The Phu My Wetland Conservation Project is one of many global conservation efforts by the International Crane Foundation. Join our email list to learn more.