Grus japonensis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Grus japonensis
Species Authority: (Müller, 1776)
Common Name(s):
English Red-crowned Crane, Japanese Crane, Manchurian Crane
Spanish Grulla de Manchuria, Grulla Manchú

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Chan, S., Goroshko, O., Harris, J., Li, Z., Parilov, M., Smirenski, S. & Lee, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Chan, S., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S., Peet, N., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Allinson, T
This species is classified as Endangered because it has a very small population, and although the population in Japan is stable, the mainland Asian population continues to decline owing to loss and degradation of wetlands through conversion to agriculture and industrial development.

2012 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Grus japonensis breeds in south-eastern Russia, north-east China, Mongolia (where it was first recorded in 2003 [O. Goroshko in litt. 2003]), and eastern Hokkaido, Japan (BirdLife International 2001). The Russian and Chinese populations mainly winter in the Yellow river delta and the coast of Jiangsu province, China, and the Demilitarised Zone, North Korea/South Korea. Staging areas exist along the Yellow river between the provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi. The Japanese population is non-migratory. The population is estimated at c.2,750 birds; however, this species has a long generation length (12 years), so the population is likely to include only c.1,650 mature individuals (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). Trends are difficult to infer from population estimates, because due to habitat degradation wintering sites are becoming more concentrated and counts are therefore likely to be becoming more accurate, but it is probably declining on mainland Asia (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). The wintering population in China totals c.400-500 birds (Su and Wang 2010). There are another 1,000-1,050 at four locations in North/South Korea (Lee and Yoo 2010). The resident population in Japan has increased to c.1,200 birds (Wang Qi-shan 2008).

China; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Mongolia; Russian Federation
Taiwan, Province of China
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is estimated to number c.2,750 individuals, which roughly equates to 1,650 mature individuals (J. Harris in litt. 2007, in litt. 2009).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In Russia and China, it breeds in grass, reed, and sedge marshes. In winter and on passage, it occurs in wetlands, including tidal flats, saltmarshes, rivers, wet grassland, saltpans and aquaculture ponds.

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The key threat is the loss and degradation of wetlands in its breeding and wintering grounds, principally for conversion to agriculture, but also industrial and economic development (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). This loss of habitat is leading to the over-concentration of cranes at a few sites (Wang Qi-shan 2008). In China, wetlands are becoming drier as a result of surrounding development (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). In Russia and China, spring fires destroy suitable nesting grounds, and the proliferation of dams lowers water levels, allowing predators access to nests and destroying suitable breeding sites (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). Human disturbance has been so high as to prevent individuals from nesting in some areas (J. Harris in litt. 2009). Rainfall patterns in the breeding grounds appear to follow a 30-year cycle, and the current dry period has meant birds, people and livestock have had to depend on ever smaller areas of wetland, also resulting in increased pressure to divert water from rivers and lakes (Harris 2008). Wetland restoration at Zhalong Nature Reserve (China) was recorded as causing inappropriately-timed floods leading to nest failure (Qiang Wang and Feng Li 2008). Important sites on the Song-nen plain, Shuangtai Hekou and Yellow River delta are on or near major oilfields and pollution is a potential threat (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). There is high adult mortality in some mainland wintering areas which is apparently due to poisoning; the species has been found to carry high levels of heavy metal contamination, and the incidence of poisoning has been increasing in recent years (Harris 2008, Su Liying et al. 2008, Su et al. 2011). Poaching has also been suggested as a threat (Su Liying et al. 2008). In the demilitarised zone of North/South Korea, the shift to autumn ploughing is reducing access to waste grain (Lee et al. 2007), and there is uncertainty regarding the long-term fate of the crane habitat, whatever the political future delivers. In Japan, the concentration of birds at feeding stations means there is a risk of disease, especially given the low genetic diversity of the population, which passed through a bottleneck in the 1950s (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009; Wang Qi-shan 2008). Also the DMZ in Korea is under pressure for development due to the recent relaxation of tensions between South and North Korea (Lee et al. 2007b).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II.  CMS Appendix I and II.  Part of the European Endangered [Species] Programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.  It is legally protected in all range states. Key protected areas include Khingansky, Muraviovka and Lake Khanka (Russia), Zhalong, Xianghai, Hui River, Shuangtai Hekou, Yellow River delta and Yancheng (China), Kumya and Mundok (North Korea), Kushiro, Akkeshi-Bekanbeushi and Kiritappu (Japan). Surveys of the wintering population in China have been carried out since 2006 (Su Liying et al. 2008). The International Red-crowned Crane Workshop was held in Japan in November 2008, where it was concluded that international cooperation was necessary to stop development from threatening crane habitat across the species's range (Wang Hui 2008). Artificial feeding has been set up at some sites (Wang Qi-shan 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify breeding times during which particularly stringent protection rules should be implemented, as has been done at Liaoning Shuangtai Estuary (Zou Hong-fei et al. 2008). Improve general monitoring procedure, with complete censuses, satellite tracking and aerial counts. Determine Area of Occupancy to a more accurate level. Initiate a study of heavy metal contamination on the mainland (J. Harris in litt. 2009). Expand the area/number of wintering sites in Japan. Establish a transboundary protected area at Tumen estuary, between Russia/China/North Korea. Secure the conservation status of the Cholwon and Han estuary in the Demilitarised Zone. Strengthen management of protected areas on the Sanjiang plain (China), reducing human disturbance. Halt tidal-flat reclamation along the Yancheng coast (China), and control the highly invasive cordgrass Spartina alterniflora. Improve management of wetland restoration at Zhalong, to prevent floods from causing breeding failure (Qiang Wang and Feng Li 2008). Prevent poisoning from pesticides and poaching. Control fires in the breeding grounds. Establish interest groups and a communications organisation for crane conservation in China (Wang Qi-shan 2008) and extend captive breeding programmes for future reintroduction and population supplementation.

Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Grus japonensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 24 July 2014.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please fill in the feedback form so that we can correct or extend the information provided