The Fifth Meeting of Signatory States to the CMS Siberian
Crane Memorandum of Understanding concluded successfully
on 29 April 2004 with the adoption of revised Conservation
Plans for the Western, Central and Eastern populations of
this endangered species.
Representatives of ten of the eleven Range States, together
with specialists from numerous scientific institutes and
non-governmental organizations, attended the meeting in
Moscow, which was hosted by the Russian Ministry of Natural
Resources and organized by the International Crane Foundation
on behalf of CMS.
The Meeting agreed on the establishment of a network of
sites critical for Siberian Cranes of the Western and Central
Flyways, which will promote training, capacity-building,
exchange programmes, education and public awareness, site
monitoring, and information exchange. The specifications
of the network will be worked out over the next 6 to 8 months.
The site network will be coordinated with related initiatives
including the Central Asian Flyway project, the North East
Asia Crane Site Network, the African-Eurasian Waterbird
Agreement GEF Project, and the GEF Econet project.
It was recognized that the recovery of both the Western
and Central populations, which have collapsed over the past
two decades, depends on reducing high hunting pressure.
The meeting identified strategies for more effective enforcement
of hunting regulations and techniques for educating hunters.
Efforts in these flyways will also focus on innovative reintroduction
methods. Taking a cue from successful efforts by Operation
Migration and other partners to reintroduce Whooping cranes
in North America, by training young birds to follow ultralight
aircraft, researchers in Russia plan to adapt the methodology
for use with hang-gliders in coming years.
The meeting heard some positive news from Western and Central
Asia. A captive-reared Siberian Crane was successfully released
for the first time on the wintering grounds in Iran. Satellite
telemetry followed the bird’s migration to Dagestan
where the signal stopped. Important new migration sites
have been recently identified in both of these countries.
At the meeting, colleagues from Afghanistan, Iran and Turkmenistan
agreed to develop a joint survey to identify potential alternate
wintering sites along their border areas.
Participants gave enthusiastic accounts of a variety of
creative programmes to increase awareness and involve local
communities. Highly successful and inspiring Crane Day celebrations
were held in several countries in 2002-2003, and will now
be conducted in all the Range States.
The remaining Eastern population in China is far more numerous
at an estimated 3,000 birds, although recent mid-winter
counts at Poyang Lake suggest that the population may number
as many as 4,000 birds. Under the UNEP-GEF Siberian Crane
wetland project, protection has expanded to 15 county protection
stations around the greater Poyang Lake Basin. A team of
hydrologists plans to tackle water management issues at
migration resting areas in northeast China including the
Zhalong and Xiangha National Nature Reserves.
the meeting of Signatory States, the representative of Mongolia
signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of his
Government, and two nongovernmental organisations –
the Cracid and Crane Breeding and Conservation Centre (CBCC)
and Wetlands International (Netherlands) – were invited
to join the MoU as cooperating partners.
The CMS Secretariat will circulate the report of the present
meeting to interested parties after it has been finalised
by the International Crane Foundation in the coming months.
Tentative plans were made to review progress again in mid-2006,
with Kazakhstan and Pakistan suggested as possible meeting
Note: The Siberian Crane Memorandum of Understanding provided
the impetus for the development of a multi-country UNEP-GEF
wetland and waterbird conservation project valued at nearly
USD 23 million, which is now being implemented in China,
Iran and Russia, with Kazakstan to participate shortly.
Source: Douglas Hykle, Senior CMS Advisor; Claire Mirande,
International Crane Foundation