Hubei Wetland Welcomes the White-Naped Crane

Nov 14, 2016

white-naped crane flying with grey crane (photo by Dr. Zhang Yuming)

November 10, Hubei - With the imminent arrival of winter, two white-naped crane (Grus vipio) were found for the first time in Hubei Shishou National Nature Reserve (NNR), one of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - Global Environment Facility (GEF) Hubei Wetland Project Pilot Sites.

White-Naped Cranes are a kind of migratory bird which breed in Northeastern China from March to May. September to November they migrate to the wetlands of Southern China. Due to habitat loss and illegal hunting, the white-naped crane has been listed as vulnerable on International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and second class national protected bird in China. Their main habitats in winter are in Jiangsu and Anhui Province and was rarely identified in Hubei Province.

“The appearance of Grus vipio is the first time in Shishou NNR, as well as in Jingzhou City.  It is a great progress of our wetland protection work. We will continue monitoring them in the future years to see whether Shishou NNR would become a suitable habitat for it” noted Dr. Zhang Yuming, staff of Shishou NNR.

Wetlands are the main habitat of water birds and provide abundant food resource. Monitoring of the plants, animals and water quality is the most important aspect of wetland protection in order to understand the health status of the wetland. However, a lack of advanced monitoring technology and equipment has limited efficiency of wetland conservation in Hubei Province.

UNDP-CH-EE- 2016 White-Naped Crane. 1white-naped crane (2 on the right) and grey crane (2 on the left) (photo by Dr. Zhang Yuming)

The UNDP-GEF Hubei Wetland Project has helped provide training to the staff in the NNR to improve their skills on bird identification, wildlife and their habitat monitoring, wildlife photographing as well as other technical skills, with the goal of enhancing the conservation efficiency. Professional monitoring equipment such as single-tube telescope, digital camera and telephoto lens were purchased to ensure monitor skills are well practiced. In addition, Ecosystem Health Index (EHI) Assessment Methodology, a dynamic varying index that reflects biodiversity health, was introduced to NNRs through the project. “EHI provides us a systematic way to assess our conservation work and helps us get full picture of our NNR’s health status. I learned a lot from it,” added Dr. Zhang.  

Aimed to better conserve the wetlands like the Shishou NNR in Hubei Province, which provides refuges to finless porpoises and many other important species, the UNDP- GEF China Strengthening the Effectiveness of the Wetland Protected Area (PA) system in Hubei Province Project was launched in 2014, to strengthen the management effectiveness of the wetland protected area system of Hubei province. This five-year project will help to protect over 200,000 hectares of Hubei’s globally significant wetlands and associated species, including Finless Porpoise, Pere David’s deer, Oriental Stork and many precious water birds.

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