Every year after harvest of rice in Cheorwon, a place in Ro Korea close to the border of DPR Korea, farmers laid down their farming equipment and picked up other tools – binoculars and cameras – and contribute to the conservation of cranes. As Cheorwon is a fertile place with clean water flowing from the Hantang River, and with less human disturbance due to the location within the Civilian Control Zone (CCZ), this site attracts thousands of cranes every winter. There are not many places in Asia where you can find seven species of cranes (Siberian Cranes, Red-crowned Crane, White-naped Crane, Hooded Crane, Common Crane, Demoiselle Crane and Sandhill Crane) at one site, making Cheorwon a paradise for cranes. The site was designated as one of the earliest crane network sites in East Asian-Australasian Flyway and became the first EAAFP Flyway Network Site (EAAF 027) in Ro Korea.
Farmers in Cheorwon love the cranes and they played an important role to protect the birds. Many of them became bird watchers and photographers to capture the beauty of these winter visitors. As time goes by they also understand a lot about the cranes. From late 1990s, a Bird Protection and A Crane Conservation Association in Cheorwon were established and supported the conservation of the cranes. They provide artificial food to cranes, and patrolled the crane area to prevent any disturbances. Starting from 2015, the farmers left rice straw in the field after harvest so as to provide natural food to the cranes. The county’s government also developed a biodiversity management project collaborating with local farmers to protect the cranes.
Since 2008, Dr. Lee Kisup, Director of Waterbird Network Korea, lead the members of the Cheorwon Crane Conservation Association and volunteers from Waterbird Network Korea to conduct regular surveys of the cranes every winter. He provides training to the farmers and local volunteers to conduct crane census in Cheorwon, every month during wintertime. This year, with the help of the local community, peak counts of 1,232 Red-crowned Cranes, 5,631 White-naped cranes, 9 Hooded Cranes and 4 Eurasian Cranes, 3 Sandhill Cranes were recorded in this winter.
To ensure that cranes returned and spent their winters in Cheorwon safely every year, sustainable effort to bring government, local communities, researchers and experts and NGOs together for collaboration is critical for the future of the cranes.
Previous news and activities in Cheorwon: