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Close Encounters with Black-necked Cranes

Updated:2015-02-21 17:21:50   Yunnan Express

Black-necked cranes in Dashanbao. Photo by Zhou Can

At noon, Chen sets off. She will carry food to Dashanbao National Nature Reserve to feed black-necked cranes.

Dashanbao is located in Zhaoyang District, Zhaotong City of Northeast Yunnan Province. It covers a land of 19,200 hectares with an altitude difference from 2,250 to 3,364 meters. Every winter, more than 1,300 black-necked cranes winter there. And Chen lives in a small village near Dashanbao. She and her mother-in-law are both members of the Volunteers’ Association to Protect Black-necked Cranes.When Chen married her husband in 2003, her mother-in-law had been providing the cranes with food for many winters. But now as her mother-in-law gets aging, the job was passed to Chen.

Every day, Chen feeds black-necked cranes 3 times: the first at 7 o’clock in the morning, the second at 12 o’clock at noon and the last at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Most of the food Chen gives to the cranes is corn, which usually is 30 kilograms for a feeding.

Though black-necked cranes are wary by nature, they are accustomed to Chen in her red down jacket. Every time Chen appears, carrying a bag of corn, black-necked cranes will fly or run to her. The closest distance is about 3 meters between Chen and the cranes. And as soon as they find strangers coming, they will fly away.

3 meters may be the shortest distance between human and black-necked cranes. In traditional Chinese culture, cranes are revered as immortal and proud. Most of the time, people can’t get close to them except when cranes are wounded.

Chen’s story is just one small glimpse into China’s protection for black-necked cranes. As one of the endangered birds in China, black-necked cranes are first-class national protected birds. After years of protection, their population has increased to more than 8,000.

By Zu Song
 

Keyword:   Black-necked Cranes
Editor: 王静