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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 19.04.2018, 20:09

«Flight of hope.LIVE» launched on-line broadcasting of sterkhs

Nina Kolyako, BC, Riga, 26.06.2012.Print version
Just 20 sterkhs are left in wild nature: those West Siberian white cranes nesting only in Russia, turned out critically endangered. A few species live outside Russia in nurseries of Germany, Belgium and the USA. The Project named «Flight of hope.LIVE» which gives a unique chance to see the life of birds on a real-time basis was established to draw attention of people to the problem.

The broadcasting is made from Okskiy State Nature Reserve (Russia). This is the only place in Russia where West-Siberian white cranes are reared with a view of replenishing the natural population of this bird. It is on a real-time basis, without out-takes or editing, that the image is broadcast from web-cameras in aviaries to an official page of the Project, including an English language page:


The on-line broadcasting has become a component of Flight of Hope, an International Ecological Project aimed at preserving and augmentation of sterkhs' population. According to George Archibald, the founder and head of the International Crane Foundation (USA), “Flight of Hope” is perhaps one of the most ambitious and worthwhile wildlife restoration projects ever attempted. Not only does it aspire to return the magnificent Siberian Cranes to ancient flyways in western Asia, but by working together in helping the cranes, humans from many nations along the flyway work together for the Greater Good. Through “Flight of Hope” the cranes are truly ambassadors for goodwill”. The leading organizers of the Project include All-Russia Scientific Research Institute of Nature (under the Russian Ministry of Nature), Okskiy State Nature Reserve, ITERA Oil and Gas Company and a few foundations.


«Flight of hope.LIVE» started up in April of 2012. Up to now, the site of the Project has been visited 300 000 times by Internet users in 75 countries. From the beginning of broadcasting spectators could see the appearance of three baby birds. They are currently being prepared to join wild nature. At this point in time, the Project is at the stage of preparing baby birds to follow a hang-glider. Habituation of baby birds to the hang-glider will help them perceive the hang-glider as an alpha male. This will allow Russian scientists to teach young sterkhs the necessary flight techniques and the migration route. This will help improve sterkhs’ survival rate in wild nature. The method was invented by American scientists, while the first flight in the company of sterkhs was accomplished by Angelo d’Arrigo, a hang-glider pilot of Italy.


According to Igor Makarov, Head of ITERA, an oil and gas company, «Mineral companies should contribute to the environment protection. We consider it our duty. It is for this reason that beginning in 2005 one of ITERA’s charity priorities was preservation and restoration of population of the West Siberian white crane (sterkh). It nests in the Yamal Peninsula which is our basic place of gas production. In spite of the fact that a basic reason for disappearance of those birds is poaching in the countries over which territories migratory ways of these birds lie, we feel responsible for the region. We believe that our common efforts jointly with the Russian and foreign ornithologists, the Russian Ministry of Nature and other participants will help restore the population of sterkhs».


Sterkh is a white crane which belongs to one of rare and nearly extinct species of world fauna. It is entered into the International Red Book and the Russian Red Book. There are two populations of white cranes. One is in Yakutia and one is in Western Siberia (both are in Russia). The total number of white cranes is not in excess of three thousand birds. West Siberian sterkhs are in a critical situation: there are only 20 of them left.


Flight of Hope is a Russian Program intended to save the population of West Siberian sterkhs. The program is based on a unique American method of growing baby birds in nurseries with the use of hang-gliders. ITERA Oil and Gas Company has been a general sponsor of the Project since 2005. As a result of special training, sterkhs grown up according to this method, perceive a motor-hang-glider as a leader of flight and follow it to a wintering place. During the migration, they make stop-overs for rest in the pre-chosen suitable places.


Sterkh is one of the rare species of cranes that nest in Yamal. Indigenous and small peoples of the Far North consider cranes sacred birds. In recent years, those beautiful birds approached the danger of total disappearance. ITERA, being a socially oriented company, for which Yamal is one of its business regions, made a decision to provide possible assistance to salvation of sterkhs.


ITERA, an oil and gas Company is the first private company which commissioned gas fields in the North of Russia. Overall, over 250 billion cubic meters of gas were produced at ITERA’s gas fields. The Company has invested over two billion US dollars into natural gas production industry.

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