Siberian Crane

The Siberian Crane MOU was the first one to be developed under the auspices of CMS. It was concluded on 1 July 1993 and revised on 1 January 1999.

Originally concentrating on the Western and Central populations of Siberian Cranes, which migrate between breeding grounds in Western Siberia and wintering sites in Iran and India, the scope of the Memorandum was extended in 1998 to cover the larger Eastern Asian population which winters around Poyang Lake, China, and accounts for 98 per cent of the birds.


Threats and Challenges

The most serious threats for the Western/Central population include hunting along their migration routes and habitat deterioration in their wintering grounds. Although the hunting of Siberian Cranes is prohibited in most of the Range States, illegal shooting persists. The Eastern population is threatened by unsustainable use of water, dams and water diversions, as well as loss and degradation of habitat due to economic development.

The Conservation Plans

The Conservation Plans for the Western, Central and Eastern Siberian Cranes, first agreed in May 2001, are structured according to the MOU´s basic objectives, followed by a number of programmes and specific activities that recognize both the similarities and differences in the actions required to restore the populations.

Overall aims of the three plans are to reduce mortality in the remaining populations, to protect and manage their habitats and enhance co-operation among the Range States and other concerned agencies. The plans for the Western and Central populations strive also to increase numbers and genetic diversity.

The implementation of the Conservation Plans is reviewed regularly at the meetings of the Signatories to the Siberian Crane MOU. At these meetings, the Conservation Plans for all three populations are also updated to provide the framework for action until the next meeting takes place.

Activities under the MOU

The Signatories meet regularly in order to review the Conservation Plans and agree on priority activities for the implementation of the MOU. The proceedings of the meetings with detailed information about the conservation status of the Siberian Crane and the Conservation Plans for its three main populations have been published as part of the CMS Technical Series and are available under “Publications”.

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) is a CMS partner organization that provides the technical coordination of the MOU through the position of the Siberian Crane Flyway Coordinator, which is co-funded by CMS.

There are signs that the work under the MOU is continuing to show results: important new information about critical sites and Siberian Crane sightings has been gathered, recovery efforts are better co-coordinated and the remaining Western/Central Asian populations are managing to maintain low, but stable numbers.


An important initiative under the MOU is the Western/Central Asian Site Network for Siberian Cranes and Other Waterbirds (WCASN), which was formally launched on 18 May 2007 in Kazakhstan, in a special signing ceremony held during the Sixth Meeting of the Signatories. More information about the WCASN is available under “Activities”.

Flight of Hope

In 2002, the All Russian Research Institute for Nature Protection teamed up with ICF and the other Range States to start a new project - "Flight of Hope". Each year a flock of young, captive-bred Siberian Cranes is led by an ultralight aircraft along part of their traditional migration route between Russia and India. The project includes the creation of new wintering grounds in the Amudaria River Valley in Uzbekistan.

This bold initiative is an adaptation of a similar programme using an ultralight aircraft, which has shown promise for endangered Whooping Cranes in the United States. Although the full migration route was not attempted, substantial progress has been made.

The “Asian Wetlands for Siberian Cranes and Other Waterbirds” GEF Project

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved a project to develop a wetland site and flyway network to conserve the Siberian Crane and other migratory waterbirds in Asia. The project was proposed by ICF and CMS. GEF contributed a total of US$10 million over a six-year period. An additional US$12.7 in co-financing was committed.

The project was carried out by ICF, under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme as well as in cooperation with CMS, and the Governments of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.

It focused specifically on conserving the international network of wetlands upon which the Siberian Crane depends, together with a wide range of other wetlands biodiversity. The results of this project provided a basis to expand the wetland site networks and more widely applied the approaches that had been developed in each participating country.

Information on the project can be found on the Siberian Crane Wetland Project site:


Title Status Status date CMS Party number Region
Afghanistan MOU Signatory 2006 121 Asia
Azerbaijan MOU Signatory 1998 AM Europe
China MOU Signatory 1999 AM Asia
India MOU Signatory 1998 001 Asia
Iran MOU Signatory 1998 106 Asia
Kazakhstan MOU Signatory 1998 097 Asia
Mongolia MOU Signatory 2004 065 Asia
Pakistan MOU Signatory 1998 025 Asia
Russian Federation MOU Signatory 2002 AM Europe
Turkmenistan MOU Signatory 1998 132 Asia
Uzbekistan MOU Signatory 1998 055 Asia
Instrument nameMemorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation Measures for the Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus)
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryNone specified in the MoU (de facto CMS Secretariat)
SignatureSigned by 11 States and 5 Co-operating Organisations (for details please scroll to 'other' and 'MoU Signatory')
In effectThe MoU became effective on 1 January 1999, for those two or more Range States having signed; for all others it becomes effective on the 1st day of the 1st month after signature; MoU will remain open for signature indefinitely
Website URL
OtherSigned also by 5 Co-operating Organizations: CMS Secretariat (13.12.1998); International Crane Foundation (13.12.1998); Wild Bird Society of Japan (18.05.2000); Wetlands International (15.05.2007) and Cracid and Crane Breeding and Conservation Centre (15.05.2007). Yearly reports on implementation to be submitted to CMS by 31 March; comprehensive Species Conservation Plans for the Western, Central and Eastern Populations are available from the CMS Secretariat and online.

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