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Sarus Crane Returns To Tran Chim National Park After 18 Years

Nguyen Van Hung, Director of the Tran Chim National Park in Dong Thap, had the surprise of his life when after taking pictures of Sarus cranes on March 2016, discovered that some of them were actually residents of the park 18 years ago. He was able to identify them through the rings placed on the birds’ feet which he himself helped put in 1998 along with a team of experts.

The red-headed crane is considered the symbol of the park and is therefore very important especially in their conservation. When they used to abound in the area, their population has steadily decreased through time. In fact, in May 2016, Mr. Hung only recorded 15 cranes, including two families of four children; two females and one male; and a couple with three children.

The crane that Hung spotted bore the foot ring number 150-0364, informing him right away that the particular bird lived in the park. He immediately sent a letter along with the pictures to a member of the International Crane Foundation in the US, Jeb Barzen, who was also a member of the team who identified the birds during that time.

The ring and locator are crucial tools for the park authorities because they aid greatly in identifying specific characteristics in a Sarus crane such as its age, weight, food path, favourite meal, etc. A Sarus crane has a life expectancy of 30 years when living in the wild, but can live up to 70 years in captivity. A one-year old crane is already capable of mating. The areas where they like to hunt for food are in Tram Chin in Vietnam, Kien Giang, Tay Ninh and Cambodia. In spring, they feed in pastures.

According to Hung, the different agencies (International Crane Society, Institute for Japanese Royal Ornothology), research centres and environmental resources should all work together with the national park management in the implementation of the ring project among the Sarus cranes as well as continued research on their migration process and other practices.

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Tran Chim National Park is one of the most frequented places in Vietnam, with 175,000 tourists visiting the park just last year. Even on winter, the park receives over 5,000 visitors. Director of the Centre for Tourism and Environmental Education Anh Le Hoang Long stated that the return of the Sarus cranes after 18 long years may be a big boost in the tourism of the country because aside from creating interest and intrigue in wanting to see the birds, it also confirms that the general environment of the park has improved over a long period of time.

At present, Tran Chim National Park is collaborating with the Association of International Crane Foundation and the University of Natural Sciences in conducting researches and recovery efforts for the red-headed cranes. They are looking for local funding for their projects and are fortunate enough to be approved in order to continue their fight in the conservation of the beautiful and one-of-a-kind creatures.



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