BirdLife International Cambodia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, is preparing to observe the Kingdom’s sixth “Crane Day” to promote public awareness and encourage local communities and stakeholders to participate in the conservation of the dwindling sarus crane population.

Crane Day’s official event will be held at Anlong Pring protected landscape in Boeung Sala Khang Tbong commune of Kampot province’s Kampong Trach district on February 28.

At the event, 450 tree saplings will be planted along a new road built across the protected landscape and that was just completed. There will be a running and cycling competition, drawing contest, as well as children’s performances and quizzes on crane trivia with prizes.

Bou Vorsak, Cambodia programme manager at BirdLife International, said Crane Day is celebrated every year in Anlong Pring protected landscape in Kampot province and Boeung Prek Lapouv protected landscape in Takeo province, both known for their crane populations.

He said the celebration of Crane Day in both areas is due to the presence of cranes there which feed from December to June, and the purpose is to promote community participation in the protection and conservation of cranes and their wetlands habitat.

He also urged local authorities as well as other stakeholders to participate in better protecting and managing the sanctuaries that the birds require in order to survive.

“For this programme, we will have children’s performances, Q&A sessions on conservation work related to the importance of cranes and the wetlands as their habitat, riding bicycles through the village and also a race to promote the conservation of cranes and encourage people to clean up the wetlands,” he said.

He added that although the activities planned would be aimed at local children, it was also an important contribution to outreach to the general public.

Moreover, there will be a painting competition between two schools in Anlong Pring protected landscape. The schools have already had their students complete crane- or wetlands-related paintings, and the students will present them and explain the meaning to the judges.

There will also be a tree planting ceremony along the road because the trees on both sides of the road were cut down while it was under construction and it may negatively impact the cranes if they do not replant them.

According to the environment ministry, the number of cranes in Cambodia has sharply decreased since 2020 with only 150 remaining total as of end-2022.

According to the crane census in 2020, Cambodia had 194 cranes. In 2021 that figure had dropped to 164. And in 2022, preliminary reports suggested a continued decrease to just around 150.

Cranes are often present at three main areas in Cambodia: Ang Trapeang Thmor Wildlife Sanctuary in Banteay Meanchey province’s Phnom Srok district; Anlong Pring protected landscape in Kampot province and Boeung Prek Lapouv protected landscape in Takeo province.

The cranes find food in the fertile wetlands from December to June every year. During the nesting season when they mate and have offspring, they will move to the rainforests in Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces.