USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

The Cranes

Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan

White-naped Crane

(Grus vipio)

JPG-White-naped Cranes

Population Numbers and Trends
Conservation Status
Historic and Present Distribution
Distribution by Country
Habitat and Ecology
Principal Threats
Current Conservation Measures
Priority Conservation Measures


The total population of White-naped Cranes is estimated at 4,900-5,300. The species breeds in northeastern Mongolia, northeastern China, and adjacent areas of southeastern Russia. Birds in the western portion of the breeding range (about 3,000 individuals) migrate south through China, resting at areas on the Yellow River delta, and wintering at wetlands in the middle Yangtze River valley. Approximately 2,000 birds in the eastern portion of the breeding range migrate south through the Korean peninsula. Several hundred remain on wintering grounds in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea; the remainder continue on to the Japanese island of Kyushu. In the past, the White-naped Crane was more numerous and more extensively distributed than at present. The population reached its historic low in the years following World War II and the Korean War. Since then, it has increased in many portions of its range, although it may again be declining in portions of Russia and China. The species is classified as Vulnerable under the revised IUCN Red List Categories.

The species’ typical breeding habitat includes shallow wetlands and wet meadows in broad river valleys, along lake edges, and in lowland steppes or mixed forest-steppe areas. White-naped Cranes nest and feed in shallow wetlands and along wetland edges, foraging in adjacent grasslands or farmlands. During migration and on their wintering grounds, they use rice paddies, mudflats, other wetlands, and agricultural fields, where they feed on waste grains, seeds, and tubers.

The loss of wetlands to agricultural expansion, especially in the breeding grounds of the Amur River basin and other parts of northern China, is the most significant threat to the species. Its preferred habitats—wetland edges and adjacent grasslands—are especially prone to drainage and conversion. The Korean Demilitarized Zone, which has served as a critical refuge for White-naped and Red-crowned Cranes, is highly vulnerable to armed conflict or to development should political tensions between the North and South be resolved. Other threats include overexploitation of wetland resources, ineffective management of key protected areas, indiscriminate pesticide use, and the proposed dams on the Amur River and on the Yangtze River at Three Gorges. The dense concentrations of wintering Hooded and White-naped Cranes at Izumi in Japan are highly susceptible to disease outbreaks.

Conservation measures to protect the White-naped Crane and its habitats have included: legal protection in all range countries; international cooperation to protect the species and to manage key protected areas in the China-Russia-Mongolia border region; establishment of protected areas in important breeding and wintering habitats; regular surveys of the population at migration stopover points and on the main wintering grounds; expanded research on the species throughout its range; and the involvement of non-governmental organizations in research, habitat protection, and captive propagation programs. Limited releases of captive-reared birds have been carried out at the Zhalong Nature Reserve in China and the Khinganski Nature Reserve in Russia.

Priority conservation measures include: expanded international cooperation in managing protected areas and in research on migration patterns and timing; expansion of existing reserves and establishment of new protected areas (especially in Mongolia, northeastern China, and the Korean Peninsula); dispersion of the wintering crane populations at Izumi; development of integrated land use and conservation programs in key watersheds; assessment of the environmental impacts of large-scale dam and development projects; continuing surveys of the population; more complete identification of the species’ breeding grounds, especially in northeastern China; professional training opportunities for reserve managers and conservation officials; improved agricultural information services for farmers; and community-based conservation education programs involving cranes and wetlands.

Return to top


There are no subspecies. There are two main wintering populations, in China and Japan, and a smaller wintering population in South Korea.

Return to top

Population Numbers and Trends

Number Trend Source
Japan (Izumi) 1800-2100 Increasing Ohsako 1994
Korean Peninsula     100-200 Unknown F. Kaliher pers. comm.
China (Poyang Lake)     approx. 3,000     Unknown Song et al. 1995
Total 4900-5300 Stable to declining    
(based on loss of
breeding area

Return to top

Conservation Status

IUCN category     Vulnerable, under criteria
A1c,d   A2c   C1
CITES Appendix I

Return to top

Historic and Present Distribution

GIF-Distribution Map

Information on historical changes in the range of the White-naped Crane is limited. According to Flint (1978), the breeding range was apparently more extensive in the past. Wintering areas were probably widespread across the Korean peninsula (Won 1981). Austin (1948) reported that the White-naped Crane, “in common with the other species [of cranes in Korea], has suffered considerable decimation in the last few decades with the encroachment of civilization, particularly from firearms, on its wintering grounds.” World War II and the Korean War damaged many of the species’ stopover points and wintering areas (Flint 1978, Won 1981). These impacts, together with other habitat-related changes (including changes in agricultural practices), apparently contributed to its decline in these years.

The present breeding range has not been fully determined. Known breeding grounds are in northeastern Mongolia, northeastern China, and adjacent areas of southeastern Russia (Smirenski 1980, Ma 1991, Su 1993). A minimum of 1,000 White-naped Cranes breed in northeastern Mongolia and adjacent Russia, primarily in riparian wetlands along the Uldz and other rivers (J. Harris pers. comm.). Further east, breeding pairs are scattered along the middle Amur and Ussuri Rivers and their tributaries, and in wetlands bordering Lake Khanka. Many likely breed in remote northern areas of Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia in China. The number and distribution of breeding White-naped Cranes in these provinces are still being investigated (some 8-10 pairs have been observed in Jilin Province). Several wetland reserves established in this region to protect breeding populations of Red-Crowned Cranes also provide protection for lesser numbers of White-naped Cranes.

White-naped Cranes from the eastern portion of the breeding range migrate to and through the Korean peninsula (Ozaki 1991; Higuchi 1993; Higuchi et al. 1992, 1994b, 1995; Chong et al. 1994). In the autumn and spring, about 2,000 White-naped Cranes stop at several sites in or near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. The most important sites are the Choelwon basin, the Han River estuary, and the lower Imjin River (Higuchi et al. 1994b, Kaliher 1993c, F. Kaliher pers. comm.). Most of the other important resting sites are in North Korea. These include the Baekchon wetlands (North Korea Natural Monument No. 164), the Eunyool fields (NKNM No. 133), and wetlands near Mundok, Kumya, Orang, and Sonbong (Chong et al. 1994). The estuary of the Nakton River in South Korea also serves as an important resting area (Higuchi 1993, S. Kim pers. comm.). Several hundred White-naped Cranes remain through the winter at sites on the DMZ. The others continue south to the island of Kyushu in Japan. They remain at Izumi, in western Kyushu, from early November to late February, where they are sustained by an artificial feeding program. This program began in 1952 and is thought to be the main factor behind the population’s dramatic increase from only 20 birds at that time to as many as 2,100 in recent counts (Chong 1987, Ohsako 1994, Matano 1995; see also the Hooded Crane species account in this volume).

About 3,000 White-naped Cranes from the western portion of the breeding range migrate across central and eastern China to wintering grounds in Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, and Jiangsu Provinces (Yang et al. 1991, Harris et al. 1995). Migration studies indicate that several hundred birds migrate along the China coast from Liaoning Province to the Yellow River delta, and then to Poyang Lake in the middle Yangtze lowlands of Jiangxi (Williams et al. 1991, Higuchi et al. 1994b, 1995). Other birds in the population migrate southeast from northern China and eastern Mongolia, rest at the delta of the Yellow River in Shandong Province, and then move on to Poyang Lake. A few birds winter at Dongting Lake in Hunan Province.

It is not known if the two main wintering populations meet in their breeding range. The populations may mix in an intermediate zone. As yet, migration studies have not determined if any birds from the west migrate eastward or vice versa (J. Harris pers. comm.).

Return to top

Distribution by Country

China B, M, W
Japan W
Mongolia B
North Korea M, W
Russia B
South Korea     M, W
B = Present during breeding season
M = Present during migration
W = Present during winter

Return to top

Habitat and Ecology

JPG-White-naped and Red-crowned Cranes in Korean Demilitarized Zone

The breeding grounds of the White-naped Crane in Russia, Mongolia, and China typically include wetlands and wet meadows in broad river valleys, along lake edges, and in lowland steppes or mixed forest-steppe areas (Li et al. 1991, Su et al. 1991, Fujita et al. 1994). They nest and feed in shallower sedge-dominated wetlands and along wetland edges, foraging in adjacent grasslands and croplands. On their breeding grounds they feed predominantly on insects, small vertebrates, seeds, and the roots and tubers of sedges and other wetland plants. Nests are mounds of dried sedges and grasses in open wetlands. Eggs, usually two per clutch, are laid from April to late-May. Incubation lasts 28-32 days and chicks fledge at 70-75 days.

During migration and on their wintering grounds, they use both wetlands and agricultural fields, feeding on waste grains, seeds, and tubers. At the feeding stations in Japan, they are provided with rice and other cereal grains, while also using nearby cultivated fields (Ohsako 1994). In the Korean peninsula, they use rice paddies, fallow fields, and the edges of reservoirs in the Panmunjom and Choelwon valleys, as well as mudflats in the Han, Naktong, and Imjin River estuaries (Kaliher 1994, Pae and Won 1994, Halvorson and Kaliher 1995). White-naped Cranes are proficient diggers. In the Han River estuary and at Poyang Lake they excavate the tubers of several species of sedges, in particular Scirpus maritimus, S. fluvialis, Vallisneria spiralis, Suaeda japonica, and Salsola komarovi (Cha 1986, Won 1986, Koo 1986, Chen et al. 1987).

In many portions of its breeding and winter range, the White-naped Crane is regularly found in the company of other cranes. The White-naped is among the four species of cranes that occur simultaneously during the winter at China’s Poyang and Dongting Lakes. The White-naped is intermediate in its ecological niche—somewhat less aquatic than the Siberian Crane, somewhat more aquatic than the Hooded and Eurasian Cranes. In breeding areas that are shared with the Red-crowned Crane, White-naped Cranes prefer to feed in drier reed-sedge and sedge marshes, often remaining at one site and digging there for food items (Red-crown Cranes tend to forage more extensively). White-naped Cranes also feed regularly in nearby crop fields (Su et al. 1991, Li P. et al. 1991, S. Smirenski pers. comm.). In breeding areas in Mongolia and Russia (Transbaikalia) that are shared with the Demoiselle Crane, the White-naped prefers wetter areas with relatively high vegetation, such as the shores of shallow lakes (Fujita et al. 1994).

Return to top

Principal Threats

JPG-Crane at nest, Zhalong Nature Reserve, China

Habitat loss and degradation are critical problems throughout the species’ range. Destruction of wetlands due to agricultural expansion in the breeding range (especially in the Amur River basin, the Sanjiang Plain, and other parts of northeastern China) poses the most significant threat. In some areas of China and Mongolia, White-naped Cranes benefit from the presence of upland agricultural lands nearby. Because of its breeding habitat requirements, however, the species occurs in areas that are especially prone to large-scale agricultural conversion. Extensive wetland reserves have been established in northern China to protect the sympatric Red-crowned Crane, but these generally protect only the shallow waters where Red-crowned Cranes spend their entire breeding period. By contrast, wetland edges and adjacent grasslands, which White-naped Cranes prefer, are rapidly being drained and converted to cropland. This results not only in direct loss of habitat, but increased incidence of human disturbance of breeding birds (Su 1992, 1993). Meanwhile, smaller (and thus usually unprotected) wetlands in the breeding range remain subject to heavy development pressure.

The species faces other habitat problems in its breeding range. A series of dams have been proposed in the Amur River basin. If constructed, they would have a critical impact on the breeding grounds through flooding and increased agricultural development of natural areas (Archibald 1992d). In the Amur basin, grass fires, livestock grazing, and indiscriminate use of pesticides may also affect breeding success (Smirenski 1990). Agricultural and industrial pollution present a serious threat at several breeding areas, including Muraviovka Nature Park, the Zhuravlini and Amurski Game Refuges, and Daurski and Lake Khanka Nature Reserves. At Zhalong Nature Reserve in China, economic activities (including reservoir construction, reed cutting, and overfishing) have altered the composition of habitat types in the reserve while reducing the output of marsh resources used by local communities (Harris 1992a, Su 1993). Hydrological changes due to drainage activities beyond the reserve boundaries have affected wetlands within protected areas, especially in the Chinese reserves.

Stopover points and other migratory habitats are also at risk, especially in the Korean peninsula. In the south, many agricultural fields can no longer support cranes due to the intensification of farming practices. Lack of suitable resting areas has forced small flocks to wander among scattered remnants of habitat, rendering them vulnerable to poaching (S. Kim pers. comm.). Human disturbance of cranes is also a factor (Pae and Won 1994).

Pressures on the Korean DMZ are the most significant long-term threat to the wintering and migrating cranes. Should military conflict occur in Korea, the impact on crane habitats would be devastating. Conversely, should political unification of the Korean peninsula occur, development pressures on the remaining habitats would quickly increase, especially in and along the current DMZ (Higuchi et al. 1995). The Han River and its estuary would likely be reopened to navigation and the bordering wetlands diked and converted to cropfields. The Choelwon Basin and Panmunjom Valley are likely candidates for industrial development zones. Preparations for such industrial expansion (e.g., surveying of road and railroad routes) are already proceeding in anticipation of reunification (Kaliher 1993b, 1994). These threats are compounded by a lack of conservation education and training opportunities and by practical difficulties in studying cranes in military-secured areas (Halvorson and Kaliher 1995).

White-naped Cranes face additional threats on their wintering grounds. The wintering populations of White-naped and Hooded Cranes at Izumi in Japan are highly concentrated, increasing the risk of a disease outbreak. In China, the proposed dam on the Yangtze River at Three Gorges would alter the hydrological processes at Poyang and Dongting Lakes. Loss of these China wintering areas would threaten about 60% of the total species population. Poor interagency communication, a lack of clear authority, and a shortage of qualified and motivated personnel hinder effective management of the reserves at Poyang Lake and elsewhere in China (Bouffard 1993).

Return to top

Current Conservation Measures

JPG-Winter feeding station in southern Japan

Note: many of the measures noted in this section have also benefitted the other migratory crane species of East Asia.

Legal and Cultural Protection

Laws to protect the White-naped Cranes have been passed in all of the range countries, but enforcement of these laws is often weak.

International Agreements and Cooperation

In recent years, international agreements have played an important role in protecting White-naped Cranes and their habitats. Migratory bird agreements have been reached between Russia and Japan, Japan and China, Russia and North Korea, and Russia and South Korea. South Korea and Japan are currently discussing such an agreement. China, Japan, and Russia are parties to the Ramsar Convention. South Korea may soon sign the Convention.

In July 1992, an International Workshop on Cranes and Storks of the Amur Basin brought together conservation scientists, officials, and NGO representatives from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Russia, and the United States. Scientists from these nations were able to pool their knowledge and produce a series of resolutions calling for protection of the Amur River ecosystem, joint studies of its ecological status and economic potential, and support for environmentally sound development alternatives for the basin (Archibald 1992d). Four sites—Muraviovka National Park, Khinganski Nature Reserve, Daurski Nature Reserve, and the Tumen River—were recommended for protection as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. These sites were subsequently included in the official Russian proposal to the Ramsar committee in 1994. The workshop also produced resolutions involving other key crane habitats in the Far East and laid the foundation for further agreements on crane and wetland conservation. The proceedings of the meeting were published in 1995 as Cranes and Storks of the Amur River (Halvorson et al. 1995).

The 1992 workshop has stimulated further international activity on behalf of the species and its habitats. In 1993, crane and wetland conservationists gathered at an international symposium in Tokyo and Sapporo, Japan, to exchange information on migration, satellite tracking, habitat analysis, distribution, ecology, behavior and wetland conservation. The proceedings, published in 1994 as The Future of Cranes and Wetlands, included a proposal for an international network of wetland protected areas in the region (Ichida 1994).

Since 1993, workshops and delegation exchanges have brought together agency officials, crane biologists, and reserve managers from the breeding and wintering portions of the species’ range. Agreements are currently being negotiated to manage on a cooperative basis the protected areas on the China-Russia border at Lake Khanka and in the China-Russia-Mongolia border region (see “Protected Areas” below). Key habitats along the Tumen River on the Russia-China-North Korea border were recommended for protection in the Appeal of the International North Asia Wetland Symposium held in Nagasaki in 1994. Friends of the Earth (Japan) and other non-governmental organizations have provided financial support for the establishment of a protected area in this region (S. Smirenski pers. comm.).

Protected Areas

White-naped Cranes use many protected areas throughout their range, although many lack effective enforcement and management. All three countries in the White-naped Crane’s breeding range have protected breeding habitat within designated protected areas. In Russia, the species breeds in Muraviovka Nature Park; Khinganski, Lake Khanka, and Daurski Nature Reserves; and the Amurski, Ganukan, and Zhuravlini Game Refuges. In Mongolia, they are found in the Degee Numrug and Daguurun Nature Reserves. In China, they breed in the Hong He, Changlindao, Xingkai Hu, Zhalong, Momoge, Xianghai, Keerqin, and Dalinor Nature Reserves (Harris 1991b, 1992a, 1994c, Ma and Li 1994). In 1992, Russia and China agreed to collaborate in protecting the wetlands around Lake Khanka (Xingkai Hu). In 1994, China, Mongolia, and Russia established a trilateral protected area for cranes that breed in the wetlands and grasslands of the Daurian Steppes where the three nations meet (see Harris 1991b).

Important resting areas along the migration routes of the White-naped Crane are protected by circumstance (in the Korean DMZ) and in several designated protected areas: the Shuangtaizi and Shengjin Lake Nature Reserves in China; the Kangryong, Kumya, Panmun, and Anbyon Natural Monuments in North Korea; and the Han River Estuary Natural Monument and the small (0.397 km2) Choelwon Bird Reserve in South Korea. Again, lack of management or enforcement limits the effectiveness of these areas. Due to ecological changes, for example, fewer cranes are wintering in the Han River and Choelwon areas, and now use them only as stopovers (F. Kaliher pers. comm.).

Portions of the wintering grounds in China are protected in the Poyang and East Dongting Lake Nature Reserves. Although not a true protected area in the sense of protecting critical natural habitat, the Izumi Crane Park in Kyushu does serve as a sanctuary for the wintering populations in Japan.

Habitat Protection and Management

Little habitat management has been undertaken specifically for the species. Directed management activities have occurred within some protected areas. At East Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake Nature Reserves in China, restoration and maintenance of habitat for the White-naped and other crane species has been pursued through improved management of water levels and resource extraction, and through efforts to better coordinate land use on adjacent lands. The long-standing artificial feeding program at the Izumi wintering grounds in Japan has been noted above.


The White-naped Crane population has been surveyed at migration stopover points in Korea and on the main wintering grounds in Korea, Japan, and China. The migratory and wintering populations in Korea were first surveyed in 1973, and have been intermittently surveyed since (Won 1984; Kaliher 1993c, 1994). Accurate winter counts at Izumi have been conducted annually since the early 1950s. Annual winter counts have been carried out at Poyang Lake in China since the early 1980s (Song et al. 1995). These counts tend to be less accurate than those at Izumi due to the larger area requiring coverage and the extensive movements of the cranes within this area. (In general, winter surveys of the White-naped Cranes in China are not as accurate as surveys of Siberian Cranes, as the latter are more conspicuous). In December 1993, over 3,000 White-naped Cranes were counted at Poyang Lake, the most ever recorded for the species in China (Harris et al. 1995).


Until the mid-1970s, very little research had been carried out on the biology, ecology, and conservation needs of the White-naped Crane. Since then, its endangered status has stimulated extensive studies by Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian scientists. Much of this information is available in collections published by the USSR Working Group on Cranes, and in the recent Proceedings of the 1987 International Crane Workshop (1991), The Future of Cranes and Wetlands (1994), and Cranes and Storks of the Amur Basin (1995).

Field studies of the White-naped Crane have been carried out in the species’ breeding range (e.g., Smirenski 1980, Su et al. 1991, Bold et al. 1995); along the migration routes (e.g., Archibald 1981b, Williams et al. 1991, Xu X. et al. 1991, Kaliher 1994, Shibaev and Surmach 1994); and on their wintering grounds (e.g., Won 1986, Abe et al. 1987, Chen et al. 1987, Kaliher 1993c, Pae and Won 1994, Harris et al. 1995). Interactions of White-naped and Red-crowned Cranes on their shared breeding grounds have been studied by Su (1993). Fujita et al. (1994) compared breeding habitats of White-naped and Demoiselle Cranes in Mongolia. Color banding and satellite telemetry studies have provided critical information on the species’ migration route, stopovers, and behavior (Dombrowski 1988; Ozaki 1991, 1995; Higuchi 1993; Higuchi et al. 1992, 1994b, 1995; Kaliher 1993a; Chong et al. 1994; Xu et al. 1995).

The Proceedings of the 1987 International Crane Workshop contain several reports on the breeding behavior and ecology of the species in China (Li P. et al. 1991, Su et al. 1991, Yuan and Li 1991). Additional breeding behavior studies have appeared in the Chinese literature (Yang et al. 1986, Zhu 1986, Li et al. 1987, Li F. et al. 1991). Studies relevant to the captive propagation of cranes for conservation purposes have been conducted by Tian et al. (1990, 1992).

Non-governmental Organizations

Non-governmental organizations have been especially important in efforts to protect this species in the Amur River basin. The Soviet Working Group on Cranes carried out projects in this region from 1980 to 1991. Since 1992, conservation activities in the basin have been conducted by the Socio-Ecological Union of Russia, with technical and financial support from ICF, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, the National Audubon Society, and The Nature Conservancy (Archibald 1992d). Biologists working at the Khinganski Nature Reserve in Russia have recently established the Amur Crane Foundation with the goal of raising funds for the support of regional crane conservation activities. An Amur Program has been developed that stresses the need to integrate conservation goals and development needs (Smirenski 1995, Smirenski et al. 1995). NGOs have played an important role in other portions of the species’ range. For example, the Wild Bird Society of Japan and ICF, in partnership with Korean ornithologists, have sponsored on-going research on the migration route and stopover areas of the species in Korea (Chong et al. 1994).

Education and Training

Crane and wetland education programs are prominently featured at many of the protected areas within the species’ range, especially at Zhalong Nature Reserve near Qiqihar, Xianghai Nature Reserve in Jilin, and Muraviovka Nature Park in Russia. At the Izumi Crane Park in Japan, an education center provides visitors with information on the wintering flocks of White-naped and Hooded Cranes.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

The GCAR for cranes estimates that 409 White-naped Cranes were in captivity worldwide as of 1993 (Mirande et al. in press a). An international studbook for the species is maintained in North America and regional studbooks are kept in Japan, Europe, and the United Kingdom. Regional management programs have been developed for captive White-naped Crane populations in North America, Europe, and Japan. The GCAR determined that an adequate number of founders is currently breeding in captivity. Many pairs have produced their targeted number of offspring. Reproduction of these pairs has been curtailed, and future reproduction by their offspring will be limited. At this point, additional institutions are needed to maintain non-breeding individuals.

Reintroduction of White-naped Cranes has taken place on a limited basis at the Zhalong and Khinganski Nature Reserves, where birds have been released near research and education facilities. These birds have been raised in captivity, and thus have a greater tolerance for human beings. At least one pair, raised in captivity and released at Khinganski, has successfully migrated and bred.

Return to top

Priority Conservation Measures

Note: many of the conservation priorities for the White-naped Crane described here also apply to the other migratory crane species of East Asia.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Improve enforcement of existing laws protecting White-naped Cranes and nature reserves, especially through increased patrolling to curtail poaching both within and outside protected areas.

  2. Adopt increased fines for poaching of cranes and other protected wetland species. It is important that educational efforts be undertaken beforehand to fully inform the public of these measures.
International Agreements and Cooperation
  1. Address the conservation needs of the White-naped Crane within an umbrella international agreement on the conservation of the migratory cranes of East Asia (Japan, Russia, China, Mongolia, and North and South Korea).

  2. Secure full adoption of the Ramsar Convention in all range countries and register critical wetlands as Wetlands of International Importance.

  3. Provide support for cooperative management of the international protected areas at Lake Khanka and in the China-Russia-Mongolia border region. Critical activities include: development of more systematic means of sharing information; joint efforts to control and mitigate pollution (this applies mainly to Lake Khanka); and expanded joint training programs for managers of protected areas.

  4. Implement the Amur Program and support further international efforts to integrate conservation and development goals in the Amur River basin.

  5. Continue and expand cooperative research on the White-naped Crane to help develop integrated conservation plans for the species and its habitats across its entire range. Highest priority should be given to migration studies using satellite tracking, and the application of this information in collaborative conservation projects. Other international research projects that should be undertaken include historical studies of the distribution of the species, comparative studies of habitat use and behavior, and studies of the impact of agriculture and land use practices.
Protecting the White-naped Crane on the Korean Peninsula
  1. Secure protected area status for the key stopover points and wintering grounds of the White-naped Crane now protected by the Korean DMZ (the Han and Imjin Rivers and the Choelwon basin). This is an extremely high priority. Steps should immediately be taken toward this goal and should not await further developments in the relationship between North and South Korea. The high potential value of this area as a historical/ecological reserve, as an educational resource, and as a peace memorial and wildlife sanctuary merits support beyond its value as critical crane habitat.

  2. Identify and assess key remaining and potential crane habitats throughout the Korean peninsula. Research should be undertaken to define the restoration and management needs of these areas, and to identify additional areas for designation as (or inclusion within) protected areas.

  3. Strengthen management of existing protected areas in the Korean Peninsula.

  4. Pursue increased interaction between North Korean, South Korean, and Japanese ornithologists, wetland experts, and other biologists in order to:

  5. Expand research on the White-naped Crane in the Korean peninsula through: annual monitoring of population numbers along migration corridors and in wintering areas; comprehensive studies of the cranes wintering along the Sachon River; continued surveys of the Han and Imjin River wintering sites, the Han River estuary stopover site, and other known and potential migration and stopover sites; investigations of the impact of different agricultural practices on crane habitat; and studies of the use of the Choelwon site in response to varying winter conditions.
Protected Areas

Because White-naped Cranes often share protected areas with several other crane species, the following priorities should be pursued in concert with those defined in the other species accounts.

  1. Strengthen the management of existing protected areas used by the species. In particular, support is needed to provide equipment and training; to guard against poaching; to compensate for crop losses; to mitigate other potential conflicts between cranes (and other wildlife) and agriculture; and to develop long-term management plans for protected areas. Priority areas are:

  2. Establish new protected areas. Priority areas are:

  3. Expand existing protected areas to include additional wetlands and adjacent vulnerable grassland areas used by White-naped Cranes and to provide effective buffer zones. Priority areas are:
Habitat Protection and Management
  1. Undertake studies to assess the impact of the Three Gorges dam on the wetlands of the Yangtze River basin and to develop possible mitigation strategies.

  2. Assess and disseminate information on the social and environmental impacts of the proposed dams in the Amur River basin.

  3. Develop a plan to disperse the wintering flocks at Izumi. Although an even more critical need for the Hooded Crane, this is also an important consideration for the White-naped Crane (see the Hooded Crane species account in this volume).

  4. Improve habitat management within protected wetlands used by White-naped Cranes. In particular, efforts should be made to: maintain appropriate water levels and flows; address pollution problems; relocate hazardous utility lines; institute sustainable agriculture and other resource use practices; and provide training opportunities for managers.

  5. Develop integrated land use and conservation programs to coordinate economic and environmental goals, especially through watershed-level planning. This is needed both in key breeding areas (especially the Amur River basin, the Daguurun Reserve and nearby lands in the Uldz River watershed in Mongolia, and lands in and around Hong He and Changlindao Nature Reserves in China) and wintering areas (especially Poyang and Dongting Nature Reserves in China).

  6. Develop a program to protect the scattered wetlands in the Sanjiang Plain and other areas of northeastern China. These smaller wetlands, which are important for cranes and other wildlife, are situated within farmlands. They need to be identified, and simple management guidelines for them be developed and disseminated.
  1. Conduct aerial surveys of wintering cranes at least once each winter (preferably more often) on Poyang Lake Nature Reserve and in surrounding lands.

  2. Continue winter surveys and counts of the wintering populations in Korea and Japan.

  3. Monitor the breeding population of the species through periodic simultaneous surveys (both aerial and field surveys) of the known breeding grounds in Russia, Mongolia, and China, and through continuous observations of selected control sites.

  4. Conduct counts at key points along the migration routes in the Korea Peninsula and in China.
  1. Conduct basic ecological studies of known stopover sites and wintering grounds. It is especially important that ecological studies of protected areas be undertaken as a basis for more effective management.

  2. Identify with greater precision the known and potential breeding areas of the species in the Amur River basin, northeastern China, and eastern Mongolia using satellite images and field surveys.

  3. Conduct studies of habitat requirements and nesting success in the breeding range, especially by comparing breeding grounds in developed and non-developed areas. This effort should entail classification of crane habitats and comparison (through habitat sampling, time budgets, and foraging behavior studies) of their use by different crane species.

  4. Determine through radio tracking the daily and seasonal movements of the species on the wintering grounds in China and Korea.

  5. Expand satellite-tracking studies to determine the species’ migration routes and important stopover and resting sites.

  6. Conduct research on human resource use and its impact on White-naped Crane habitat (both within and beyond protected areas) to help develop sustainable alternatives. This is especially critical in the Amur River basin; at Zhalong, Changlindao, and Hong He Nature Reserves in China; and in the Yangtze River lowlands.
Non-governmental Organizations
  1. Secure support for the Socio-Ecological Union of Russia and other NGOs whose activities involving sustainable agriculture, ecotourism, and environmental education have benefitted White-naped Crane, their habitats, and local communities

  2. Support existing and emerging conservation NGOs in the Korea Peninsula that are working to protect habitat for cranes and other wildlife and to provide opportunities for conservation education.

  3. Provide continued support for satellite tracking studies coordinated through the Wild Bird Society of Japan.
Education and Training

Both professional training and public education are critical to the future of the species. For professional training, the following measures are of highest priority:

  1. Develop and maintain in all range countries strong professional research and training programs involving crane and wetland conservation and the management of protected areas.

  2. Secure funding for increased international training and travel, and for international teams to participate in cooperative field work and conservation planning for the species.

  3. At Poyang Lake Nature Reserve and other key protected areas for cranes, disseminate information on reserve management and conservation planning to administrators, policymakers, and reserve officials through conferences, field inspections, and various media.
For public education, the following measures are of highest priority:
  1. Provide farmers (especially in Russia and China) with information on more efficient and sustainable methods of agricultural production and processing.

  2. Develop community-based education programs focusing on crane and wetland conservation and stressing the connections between agriculture, wetlands, and wildlife protection.

  3. Develop and disseminate improved educational materials that incorporate basic biological information about cranes (this is especially important in northern and eastern China, eastern mongolia, and the Russian Far East).

  4. Provide Korean farmers and the general public with information about cranes through television programs, publications and other media. Special attention should be devoted to development of educational facilities and programs in conjunction with protection of crane habitat in the DMZ.
Captive Propagation and Reintroduction
  1. Implement the following recommendations outlined in the GCAR and CAMP for cranes (Mirande et al. in press a):

Return to top

Previous Section--Brolga
Return to Contents
Next Section--Hooded Crane

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, 01-Feb-2013 19:06:17 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww55]