NANCHANG, May 12 (Xinhua) -- A total of 4,264 Siberian white cranes, a critically endangered bird species, have been spotted over the winter and spring at Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake, in east China's Jiangxi Province.
The migratory birds began to travel north in late February. However, some wild cranes of the species were still at the lake in May, a relatively rare sight in previous years, said the Jiangxi Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve Administration at a video conference on Thursday.
Researchers will keep an eye on the lingering cranes, said Luo Hao from the administration's scientific research department.
Poyang Lake has an intact ecosystem and is an important wintering spot for waterfowl in Asia. The peak migration period for birds heading to the lake begins in mid-December and continues into early January.
Rated as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Siberian white crane, also known as the snow crane, has a global population of around 4,000.
The other end of the migration route, Russia's Kytalyk National Park, has signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation with Jiangxi Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve Administration to jointly protect the wild birds.
"The white cranes will visit Kytalyk National Park in batches all the way from China's Poyang Lake," said Sargylana Mikhailova with the Kytalyk National Park. "We will pass on the baton of protecting the wildlife, study their breeding conditions and share our research results with China." ■