Mongolia's contribution to save white-naped cranes in Asia
Hope for white-naped cranes lies within Mongolia
The White-naped Crane is a threatened species (VU) with about 6,000 individuals remaining in the wild. There are only found in East Asia, and primarily nest in wetlands of the grassland steppe and forest steppe zones in northeast Mongolia, southeastern Russia, and northeast China. The cranes in the western part of the range migrate to Poyang Lake in the Yangtze Basin of southern China (the only wintering area for the species in China) (Li et al. 2012), while WNCs in the eastern part of the range migrate to a few locations along border area in the De-militarized Zone between North and South Korea, and to Izumi in southern Japan (Higuchi et al. 1996). The western population of WNCs is experiencing a rapid and on-going population decline, from about 3,000 individuals 15 years ago to 1,000-1,500 today. Causes of decline relate to human activities and natural causes. The loss of wetlands and habitat degradation to agricultural land expansion, changes in land use practice, and impacts from hydroelectric dams both at wintering and breeding grounds are the most significant threats. Because of their migratory behavior and unique locations of their breeding and wintering grounds, they are extremely vulnerable to various threats throughout their flyways, which lie along one of the most rapidly changing human developed regions on Earth – East China.