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Dong Thap rolls out measures to preserve, develop Eastern Sarus Crane population

Dong Thap rolls out measures to preserve, develop Eastern Sarus Crane population
The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap is rolling out measures to protect and develop Eastern Sarus Cranes, an endangered bird species listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species spotted at Tram Chim National Park.

They are found in India, Australia and some Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. In the past 10 years, in Cambodia and Vietnam, wild Eastern Sarus Crane populations have declined rapidly from 850 individuals in 2010 to just under 160 recorded in 2022. If this declining trend continues, they may soon become extinct.

Vice Chairman of the Dong Thap People’s Committee Nguyen Phuoc Thien said that in recent years, due to climate change impacts and changes in the ecological environment, the number of the cranes of this species returning to the park has fallen sharply. They even did not arrive in the park in some years. Therefore, the locality is implementing a project to preserve and develop their population.

The restoration and development at Tram Chim National Park are of great significance in the conservation of biodiversity as well as in the cultural and spiritual life of local people. The success of the project is expected to make important contributions to the protection of the Eastern Sarus Cranes of the lower Mekong River region, while proving Vietnam's commitment and high sense of responsibility in implementing international institutions, he said.

Located in Tam Nong district of the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, the park boasts a rich biodiversity that turned it into the world’s 2000th Ramsar site in 2012. Established in 1985, the 7,313-hectare Tram Chim became a national park in 1998 and then the fourth Ramsar site in Vietnam.

The park’s plentiful green vegetation is inhabited by more than 130 species of higher plants featuring six main types of floristic societies. Water life in the park is also bustling with the presence of over 150 species of freshwater fish, some listed in Vietnam’s Red Book like clown feather-back fish, common archerfish and giant barbs, nearly 180 algae species, 26 epifauna species, 350 species of plankton and 34 species of amphibian. Tram Chim is home to 198 bird species, including 16 rare ones.

According to leaders of the park, the project will focus on expanding the sarus crane herd by rearing and releasing them into the wild. In the 2023-2033 period, it aims to release 150 sarus cranes to the wild, of which 100 individuals are expected to survive.
At the same time, the living environment of the bird will be improved, an organic farming area developed around the park, and environment education and communications strengthened, along with the improvement of livelihood for the local community basing on organic agriculture.

The project has a total cost of about 92 billion VND (3.92 million USD).

Recently, the People’s Committee of Dong Thap signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vietnam Zoo Association (VZA), the International Crane Foundation, and the Zoological Park Organisation of Thailand (ZPOT) on the conservation of sarus cranes.
Under the document, the organisations will provide technical support and experience to Dong Thap in preserving sarus cranes and chicks.

Richard David Beilfuss, ICF President and CEO, said that the ICF supports the project to protect and develop sarus cranes of Dong Thap and will provide best conditions for cooperation among programmes to restore the bird population in Dong Thap in particular and Vietnam in general, as well as the coordination between Thailand and Vietnam in the work./.