The Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus is the world’s third rarest crane after the Whooping G. americana and Red-crowned G. japonensis Cranes. It is listed in IUCN Red Data List as critical endangered species, and is also listed in regional, national and local Red Data Books (Birdlife International Red Data Book: Threatened Birds of Asia; Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Yakutia and Khanty-Mansiskiy Autonomous Region of Russia). The species protected by international conventions (CITES, CMS, Ramsar Convention, and bilateral agreements on migratory birds conservation between Russian Federation and India, and Russian Federation and Japan).
The total population of the Siberian Crane is estimated at 3,800 birds. The species is divided into Eastern and Western/Central Asian populations which used three migration routes – Eastern, Central and Western Flyways.
The Eastern Asian population of Siberian Cranes is estimated to be between 3,500-3,800 birds, as per Waterbird Population Estimates 2013, more than 98% of the world’s total population of this species. Their migration route is covers approximately 6,000 kilometers. Siberian Cranes cross Russia from the north to the south with brief migration stopovers. Then they rest for the few weeks at large wetlands in northeast China before their long and rapid passage to Poyang Lake in the middle portion of the Yangtze River floodplain.
Map of Eatern Flyway [PDF 110 KB]
The Western/Central Asian population is critically endangered. It is divided into Western Asian and Central Asian flocks. The former breeds in a wilderness area in the center of Western Siberia and spends the winter near the Caspian Sea shores of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Central Asian flock mostly nests in the lowlands of the Ob River Basin. It traditionally migrated 5,500 km south across the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, before arriving at the wintering grounds in Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Rajasthan, India. The Western/Central population is estimated at about 15-20 individuals as per Waterbird Population Estimates 2013. The Central Asian flock has practically ceased to exist, as the last pair of Siberian Cranes wintering in India was seen in the winter of 2001/2002. Along the Western Asian flyway, there have been unconfirmed reports of several cranes in other areas within the breeding range, regular registration 1-7 birds in migration stopovers in Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan along Western flyway and a few sightings in Uzbekistan and Pakistan along the Central Flyway.