Surveys were conducted in eastern Turkey in 2010 with the aim of understanding the status of two breeding crane species. The surveys revealed the extinction of Demoiselle crane (Athropoides virgo) in Eastern Turkey and documented its absence in former locations. The species may have a small breeding population near the Lake Tuz, in Central Turkey. The results also showed a significant decline in the Eurasian crane (Grus grus) population.
The observed individuals from this isolated population of Eurasian crane were identified as members of the recently identified taxon (Grus grus archibaldi). Two previously unknown breeding sites were also discovered and a total of 47 individuals were recorded during the surveys. The estimated breeding population of the Anatolian Mountain crane in Turkey is around 20 pairs. Bulanık and Malazgirt Plains, Lake Van and its surroundings, Erzurum swamps, Lake Putka in Ardahan, and Ekşisu reedbeds in Erzincan are important areas in eastern Anatolia for this sub-species to breed. There is little information available on the current status of the Iranian, Georgian and Armenian populations. It recently discovered that the sub-species winters within Turkey, Çukurova, Adana.
The facts and figures available point to an urgent need to improve ongoing efforts to save this rare subspecies, also a possible full species, and to prevent its extinction. With this aim, a programme for the conservation of cranes in Anatolia was launched as a partnership between Doğa and the International Crane Foundation.
The Crane Conservation programme has the following objectives: (i) To identify new breeding locations for cranes, (ii) To monitor the wild population of cranes and determine the causes of population decline (iii) To improve the conservation status of Anatolian mountain crane in its geographic range through community based conservation.
Photograph: © Zafer Tekin