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NE China Reserve Sees Record Number of Migrating Cranes

A natural reserve in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has seen a record number of migrating hooded cranes, an endangered crane species, sources with the reserve said on Sunday.

Since mid-October, more than 2,000 hooded cranes have migrated into the Zhalong State Nature Reserve, a major habitat for cranes in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, said Li Changyou, deputy director of the reserve.

"About 1,000 hooded cranes would stay at the reserve every autumn before heading south to spend the winter. But it's the first time that the reserve received so many hooded cranes since its establishment in 1979," Li said.

According to Li, the reason for the rise may be a remarkable increase in total numbers of such cranes, or because changes have occurred to other habitats and forced the cranes to head for Zhalong.

The hooded crane, or Grus monacha, is a kind of small dark crane with white head and neck. It is one of the 15 most endangered crane species in the world, with a population between 9,400 to 9,600.

The 210,000-hectare Zhalong reserve, located in Qiqihar of western Heilongjiang, is one of China's major habitats for cranes, and the country's largest artificial breeding center for the red-crowned cranes, also a protected crane species.

(Xinhua News Agency October 29, 2007)

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