Can you imagine seeing seven of the world’s 15 species of cranes in one morning? There is only one place on earth where this has ever happened, a most remarkable, and most threatened, place – the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides the hostile Korean peninsula.
Can you imagine seeing seven species of cranes in one morning?!? Today our group visited the remarkable Cheorwon basin of South Korea near the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean peninsula. Cheorwon is renowned for the large concentrations of wintering Red-crowned and White-naped Cranes that feed on waste grain in this agricultural landscape – one of the very best places to see these two endangered species.
Wasabi, a rare Hooded Crane, hatched at the International Crane Foundation on June 6, 2014. But even before that, its journey was a colorful one. Eggs produced by ICF’s captive flock are either destined for release into the wild – like those of Whooping Cranes – or play an important role as captive breeding birds to protect wild cranes for future generations.
In early December 2012, ICF co-organized with Beijing Forestry University an international crane workshop in Beijing and Hunan Province, China. Following the workshop, the Crane Specialist Group developed a Call for Action for the “Protection of cranes and wetlands through sustainable agriculture in Northeast Asia.”
Our friendship began in the spring of 1977 when Ted, then US Ambassador to Afghanistan, helped Ron Sauey, co-founder with George of the International Crane Foundation, find the stopping point in Afghanistan of a flock of Siberian Cranes migrating from northern India to northern Siberia. The friendship has been renewed many times since 1977, most recently when George discovered a Siberian Crane and told Ted where to find it at the Gun Gaalut Reserve east of Ulaanbaater in June, 2012. We met at our ger (yurt) camp on the first night of George’s trip to eastern Mongolia and the last night of a two-week trip Ted was taking in the same area where he had not yet found any Siberian Cranes.
The following are notes from my October 27-November 8, 2012 visit to North Korea. I was the guest of North Korea’s foremost ornithologist, Dr. Park U Il of the State Academy of Sciences (SAOS), with whom ICF has been working since my first visit in 2008. From our base at the Pyongyang Hotel, we traveled to three important sites for Red-crowned Cranes.
In late April two staff from the Denver Zoo visited ICF to receive hands-on training in breeding techniques that we use with our cranes. The staff returned to Denver with new skills that they can hopefully use next season to produce fertile crane eggs (their birds are already responding well to the techniques learned here at ICF) AND with two fertile Hooded Crane eggs from ICF for their collection.