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.
In August 2014, a team of scientists from the International Crane Foundation, Mongolian Wildlife Science and Conservation Center, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and U.S. Forest Service traveled to the Khurkh and Khuiten River Valleys of northern Mongolia to study this important breeding area for White-naped Cranes.
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.
On a wide plain beside the town of Binder in northeast Mongolia, the nation’s first Crane Festival was held on June 13, 2014. Our group and other guests sat comfortably under a large colorful tent with one side open to a field surrounded by other tents, exhibits, games, vehicles, and horses. A sequence of activities unfolded for six hours, including ethnic dancing, singing, dramas, and dances about cranes, along with the three big traditional crowd pleasers — wrestling, horse racing, and archery.
This year I have been privileged to experience four springs in Wisconsin (USA), Hokkaido (Japan), Amur Region (Russia) and the grasslands of Mongolia.
In late November, I traveled to the Hermit Kingdom (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK) to provide ICF support for the work of my excellent colleagues at the State Academy of Sciences and the farmers at two important wintering sites for Red-crowned Cranes.
This fall, an international team of conservationists and scientists from Mongolia, China, and the United States are tracking White-naped Cranes in East Asia to identify and protect the threatened cranes’ key breeding, migratory, and wintering habitat.
New York artist Paola Bari has combined forces with the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, New York and local businesses around the Hudson Valley to form the KeepSafe Project in support of cranes and other endangered species.
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.