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Cambodia’s last cranes

February 16, 2016

A conservation area and the introduction of organic farming aim to save the last 1,000 Sarus cranes in the wetlands along the mighty Mekong.

Sun sets over the Mekong
Image: Iago Lopez

Protecting the sarus cranes

Project goal: To secure the livelihoods of the 60 million inhabitants of the Mekong Lower Basin: to help local communities adapt to climate change; to preserve and expand conservation zones for the threatened sarus cranes
Project area: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Our report takes us to the Mekong Basin in Cambodia, close to the border with Vietnam.
Biodiversity: The Mekong is one of the most biodiversity-rich rivers in the world, serving as a nesting, feeding and breeding habitat for numerous bird species. One is the mighty sarus crane, which is classified as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.
Sarus cranes rely on wetlands and marshes to survive - but they face a deluge of problems. Not only is climate change drying out their natural habitat, but dwindling fish stocks and pesticides from surrounding rice fields are endangering their already vulnerable existence. January has traditionally been a time when flocks of this rare bird gather in the Lower Mekong Basin, along the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. These days, however, there are only 1,000 sarus cranes left in the region, which has led the Cambodian government to declare some areas as conservation zones. To make sure local communities don't use the land for agricultural purposes, the International Climate Initiative is teaching them how to protect against increasingly hard rainfall, move away from using pesticides, and irrigate more efficiently.
A film by Christian Jaburg