Siberian cranes land in Ghouri Gol International Wetland

May 21, 2021 - 17:22

TEHRAN – About 200 Siberian cranes, in a rare and unprecedented phenomenon, arrived in the Ghouri Gol International Wetland in the northwestern East Azarbaijan province, IRNA reported on Wednesday.

Stretching to 200 hectares, Ghouri Gol together with the adjacent reed marshes is an important breeding area for waterfowl. A 1.2 km² site was designated as a Ramsar Convention wetland protection site on June 23, 1975.

It is of national and international importance due to being host to a large number of migratory birds.

Siberian cranes have not landed in the wetland for years so that it was a rare event, Hassan Abbasnejad, head of the provincial department of environment, said.

Considering the well-known migration routes of cranes, the species is very rarely seen in this region, while its presence this year showed the desirable condition of the wetland such as habitat, biodiversity, and food availability, he explained.

According to the International Crane Foundation website, this critically endangered species is now only found in one main population in East Asia, with a few birds remaining in the historic Western/Central population.

The Eastern population breeds in northeastern Siberia and winters at Poyang Lake in the Lower Yangtze River Basin in China. In the Western/Central population, a single crane [Omid] continues to winter along the south coast of the Caspian Sea in Iran. This population bred just south of the Ob River in Russia.

With a height of 140 centimeters and a weight of 6 kilograms, there are only 3,600 to 4,000 cranes left in the world. The Eastern population is stable, but the Western/Central population almost extirpated.

Adult cranes have red skin on the forehead, face, and sides of the head, white plumage with black wingtips, and reddish-pink legs while juvenile cranes have plumage mix of white and cinnamon-brown feathers and tan head.

The oldest documented crane was a Siberian Crane named Wolf, who died at the age of 83. Wolf is in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Habitat loss, especially due to changing hydrology caused by water diversions and conversion of wetlands, illegal take including hunting, trapping and poisoning, pollution, and environmental contamination is threatening this endangered species.

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