Travels with George: Inspiring Crane Conservation in China

The International Crane Foundation, as a world center for cranes, provides extraordinary learning opportunities as well as inspiration for conservationists from around the world. We’ve been delighted to host several significant visits from China, Thailand, and Nepal this year. Following is the first of three stories on our recent visitors.

Zheng Zhongjie delegation visits the International Crane Foundation's headquarters in Wisconsin.

The Chinese

Poyang Lake is China’s largest freshwater lake, just south of the Yangtze River. As floodwaters drop in autumn, vast shallows and mudflats appear – the winter home for almost all Siberian Cranes and a host of other water birds including the endangered Oriental Stork, threatened White-naped and Hooded Cranes, as well as more common Eurasian Cranes and White Spoonbills, and several hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds. Surrounded by cities and large human populations, the lake itself faces severe stresses.

Nanchang is the capital of Jiangxi Province, just a short distance upriver from Poyang Lake on the largest of five rivers that empty into the lake. Photographer and journalist Mr. Zhongjie Zheng lives in Nanchang, and until recently was the director of a television station. He has devoted his spare time to wildlife photography and conservation. In recent years his deepest hope has been to capture with video and still photographs the life of Siberian Cranes throughout their wide range, work that culminated in the publication of a magnificent book. Through his efforts, he has been a voice to the people of China about the beauty and the needs of the cranes.

Recently retired, Zhongjie now has more time to concentrate on cranes. Consequently in early February, the International Crane Foundation hosted Zhongjie and three colleagues to photograph Whooping Cranes at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas,  followed by a visit with kindred spirits and all 15 species of cranes at the International Crane Foundation. A special thanks to Al and Diane Johnson (whose home is adjacent to the Aransas refuge) for being a remarkable host family to the delegation.

George ArchibaldStory submitted by Dr. George Archibald, International Crane Foundation Co-founder and Senior Conservationist. Click here to learn more about Conservation Leadership.