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Int'l effort manages to save critically endangered bird species

BALI, Indonesia, Feb. 24 — The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Wednesday announced an international effort to save Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus), a critically endangered bird species.

The species conservation project by China, Iran, Kazakhstan and Russia was supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the International Crane Foundation through the UNEP.

The project is the first of its kind to use a "flyway" approach to stabilize and to sustain the remaining 3,000-3,500 Siberian Cranes and millions of other migratory water birds.

Flyway is a flight path used in annual bird migration from breading grounds to non-breeding areas, which often span continents and oceans.

"The Siberian Crane Wetland Project underlines how conservation of biodiversity and human concern go hand in hand, a key point in the UN's International Year of Biodiversity," said the UNEP's Executive Director and the UN's Under Secretary General Achim Steiner in a statement.

According to Steiner, the Siberian Cranes need the wetlands to rest and to feed.

"But communities and countries need wetlands too. Not only they are important suppliers and purifiers of drinking water and productive fisheries, but they play a significant role in flood defense and combating climate change," he said.

According to Steiner, it is estimated that wetlands store between 10-20 percent of all lands-based carbon.

Every year, the Siberian Crane, migrates up to 5,000 kilometers from its breeding grounds in northern Siberia, along two migration routes to wintering sites in southern China and Iran.

During the journeys, they cross some of highest mountains on Earth, as well as the harshest desert. However, in recent years, the draining of wet lands, where they normally take respite on route, as well as hunting has threatened their survival. (PNA/Xinhua)


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