VietNamNet Bridge – Most of the members of the red-headed crane flock have left Vietnam for Cambodia. Only 44 now make Vietnam their permanent home.
Dr. Tran Triet.
This information has been released by Dr Tran Triet, Coordinator of the South East Asia Program of the International Crane Foundation (ICF), who stressed that the number amounts to just 5 percent of the total cranes “residing” in both Vietnam and Cambodia
In late March 2014, ICF conducted a survey on red-headed cranes in Vietnam and Cambodia to learn how many cranes have left. The organization has warned about the gradual decline in the number of cranes in Vietnam over the last five years.
The latest calculation is disappointing: there are 21 cranes in Dong Thap, 19 in Kien Giang and four in Long An provinces.
Triet, who keeps watch over the crane population, notes that the number of cranes dropped dramatically in this year’s survey, to its 14-year deepest low.
The problem is that most cranes have decided to stay in Cambodia and not to return to Vietnam. A large population of cranes now lives in Anlung Pring crane sanctuary in the Kampot province of Cambodia. The area, contiguous with Vietnam’s Phu My area of Kien Giang Province, has proven to be a good habitat for cranes, given its natural conditions.
Triet affirmed that humans are the proximate cause of the disappearance of the cranes. The wetlands, their favored habitat, have been encroached upon by humans. In what little is left, the cranes no longer feel safe.
In the Ha Tien area of Kien Giang Province, for example, a once-expansive wetland area has disappeared as a result of aquaculture development. People dig ponds there for shrimp hatcheries or rice cultivation, thus altering the cranes’ living environment.
Similarly, a large protective forest, covering an area of over 3,000 hectares, once thrived in the Hon Chong District of Kien Giang Province, providing sanctuary to cranes. That has been completely eliminated, with the land now being exploited for shrimp hatcheries.
The 5,000 hectare protective forest in the Lung Lon area of Kien Luong District has also been overtaken by humans, mostly turned into rice fields. And the surrounding area around Lung Lon, once the “residential quarter” of cranes, has turned into a brown coal exploitation site.
And the grasslands in Phu My have also suffered. This despite the fact that ICF, in coordination with the local authorities, has been running a project on crane conservation over the last 10 years. Humans have driven the cranes away to use the land for rice fields. The project’s board of management only has the authority to offer technical support, while it is not in a position to prevent farmers from engaging in practices which harm the crane population.
The Prime Minister in January decided to develop Phu My into a sanctuary, which means that the area will be put under strict control. However, the area has already been devastated by local people, well before the administrative procedures to officially make Phu My a sanctuary have been put in place.
Tram Chim National Park is believed to be the best existing living environment for cranes in the Mekong Delta. Scientists have agreed that the management of its natural ecosystem has improved a great deal over the last five years. However, it has yet to attract the cranes to return.