The photo of the Siberian Crane (Below, 7-31-10), I took at International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo, WI, is of an endangered species. The Siberain Crane can now only be found in two wild populations, in eastern and western Siberia . A central population of Siberian Cranes once nested in western Siberia and migrated to India for their winter grounds. The last documented sighting of Siberian Cranes in India was in 2002, and reports say there is a high probability this population has been recently exterminated. All but a few existing birds in the wild belong to the eastern population, which breed in northeastern Siberia and winter in China. The western population winters at a single site along the south coast of the Caspian Sea in Iran and breeds in the Ural Mountains in Russia.
The traditional migratory and wintering habitats of Siberian Cranes are under constant pressure from the demands of the growing human population. The eastern population are at risk from a loss of wetland habitat: agricultural development, wetland drainage, oil exploration, and water development projects. whereas, the western population is primarily threatened by hunting
Realizing the threats to Siberian Cranes in the wild, a top priority for ICF was to establish the species in captivity. In 1977 and 1978, under the US-USSR Environment Agreement, ICF, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Russian counterparts orchestrated the export of hatching eggs from Russia. Seven eggs were transported 10,000 miles from the nests of wild cranes to incubators in Wisconsin. All hatched and three pairs were reared. Concurrently, ICF helped Russian colleagues establish a captive breeding center for Siberian Cranes at the Oka Nature Reserve near Moscow. Today there are several hundred Siberian Cranes in captivity at special facilities in Belgium, China, Russia and the USA.