Thai cranes to arrive in Mekong Delta reserve next month

By Ngoc Tai   November 15, 2023 | 03:37 pm PT
Thai cranes to arrive in Mekong Delta reserve next month
Red-crowned cranes in Tram Chim National Park in Dong Thap Province in southern Vietnam. Photo by Nguyen Van Hung
Dong Thap Province will bring two red-crowned cranes from Thailand to its Tram Chim National Park in early December as part of an effort to restore the species in Vietnam.

Nguyen Phuoc Thien, deputy chairman of the Mekong Delta province, said the procedures to bring them to Vietnam have been completed.

"The crane couple, a male and a female, could be six months or older," he said.

Vietnam and Thailand in April signed an agreement on breeding and transferring cranes from Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo for release in Dong Thap, as well as training staff and developing captive-rearing facilities and a monitoring system.

The province is aiming to release 150 cranes into Tram Chim Park in the next decade, and keeping at least 100 of them until they can form their own flocks.

Spanning 7,500 hectares, Tram Chim is recognized under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance, the fourth in Vietnam, and 2,000th in the world.

The park is famous as a natural habitat for the large East Asian red-crowned crane, among the rarest in the world and classified as "endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The birds usually arrive from Cambodia in December and stay until May, when it is the dry season in southern Vietnam.

They come to forage and mate prior to the onset of rains and floods. Until 1980 thousands came every winter, but in recent years that story has changed with only a couple of dozen visiting the park at most each year.

This year, none arrived, as in 2022. In 2021, only three showed up.

Nguyen Hoai Bao, deputy director of the Center of Wetland Studies at HCMC University of Science and a volunteer at the International Crane Foundation (ICF), told VNExpress that in the delta, the conversion of natural wetland areas into lands for rice cultivation and aquaculture and the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides had destroyed the ecological balance, giving red-crowned cranes almost no chance to live.

Dong Thap announced in June that it would $3.25 million on a project to raise red-crowned cranes in combination with tourism and agricultural development.

It said a part of the funds will be used for creating habitats for the cranes, including growing rice, and developing eco-tourism services.

According to the ICF, there are around 15,000-20,000 red-crowned cranes worldwide, with 8,000-10,000 in India, Nepal and Pakistan and the rest in Indochina.

In Vietnam and Cambodia, their numbers have fallen from 850 in 2014 to 179 in 2020.

In Thailand, no cranes have been seen in the wild since 1980s, and the country launched a program to restore red-crowned cranes in 2011.

There are currently around 100 cranes in Thailand.

go to top