Skip to main content
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis)

Population Status

  • Second rarest crane species, after whooping crane (Swengel 1996a)
  • Estimated 2,800-3,300 individuals in wild but only 1,830 are mature individuals (BirdLife International 2016)
  • Wintering subpopulations (Swengel 1996a):
    • China 600-800; trend unknown
    • North Korea 300-600; trend increasing
    • South Korea 200-300; trend unknown
    • Japan (Hokkaido) 594; trend increasing
  • Population trend overall:decreasing
  • Population numbers lowest in Japan after World War II - 33 individuals (Archibald & Meine 1996)
  • In 1990s some 600 individuals in Japan (del Hoyo et al. 1996)
  • Population on Asian mainland declining (Johnsgard 2008)
  • Japanese population on northern island of Hokkaido increasing slowly since 1970s
    • Due to special protection of the few breeding areas used by cranes and winter feeding
  • In June 2008 a red-crowned crane sighted on Honshu, Japan, for the first time in 100 years (Hays 2009)

Conservation Status

(IUCN 2011, assessed 2009)

  • IUCN Status: Endangered (2016 assessment) (BirdLife International 2016)
    • Population decreasing
  • CITES Status: Appendix I and II
  • IUCN/SSC suggested conservation actions:
    • Expand area and number of wintering sites in Japan
    • Establish a protected area at boundary between Russia/China/North Korea
    • Establish protected area in estuaries of demilitarized zone (N/S Korea)
    • Establish protection on Sanjiang Plain of China
    • Stop reclamation of tidal flats along Yangcheng coast of China
    • Prevent poisoning from pesticides and poaching
    • Control fires
    • Establish conservation interest groups
  • Conservation efforts:
    • Khingansky Zapovednik, Amur River Basin, Russia (Andronov 2011)
      • Wetland of International Significance (RAMSAR Convention)
      • Key Crane Territory (RAMSAR Convention)
      • Ways to reduce careless fires being developed
      • Local support for cranes through environmental education, especially "Crane Day" festival
      • International efforts to coordinate migration studies
    • Red-crowned Crane Nature Park, Hokkaido dedicated in 1958 (Masatomi 1981)
      • Efforts began to popularize crane preservation
      • Wintering feeding areas established
      • Study of cranes encouraged
    • In 2009 biologists with Kyungpook National University in Korea successfully used artificial insemination to hatch chicks (Chosunilbo 2011)
  • A series of nature reserves in China helps protect crane flyways, including breeding areas for red-crowned cranes (Three White Cranes, Two Flyways, One World 2011):
  • Key protected areas at present (Bird Life International 2011):
    • Russia: Khingansky, Muraviovaka Park and Lake Khanka
    • China: Shalong, Xianghai, Shuangtai Hekou, Yellow River delta and Yancheng
    • Border area of Russia, China, Mongolia: Daursky Nature Reserve
    • North Korea: Mundok
    • Japan (Hokkaido): Kushiro, Akkeshi-Bekanbeushi and Kiritappu
      • By 2006 red-crowned cranes have increased from near 50 in 1970s to around 1,240 individuals in Japan (Johnsgard 2008)
      • Conservation efforts resulted in the species "return from near extinction" (Johnsgard 2008)
  •  

Threats to Survival

(IUCN 2011)

  •  Wetland degredation and destruction, especially:
    • Agriculture
    • Industrial and economic development, especially oilfield pollution
      • High adult mortality in wintering grounds due to heavy metal contamination
  • In China and Russia:
    • Spring fires
    • Dams (cause lower water levels in wetlands, giving predators access to nests)
  • In DMZ area of North/South Korea, change to autumn plowing reduces access to waste grain
  • Crowding at Japanese feeding stations increases threat of disease

So Beautiful, Yet So Few

Red crowned Crane

The loss of wetland habitat is the main threat to the Red-crowned Crane.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Bird Life International (2011)
Chosunilbo (2011)
Hays (2009)
del Hoyo et al. (1996)
IUCN (2011)
Johnsgard (2008)
Swengel (1996a)

SDZG Library Links