Wild Bird Society of Japan / Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary

Contact us

Wild Bird Society of Japan Address: 3-9-23 Nishi-gotanda, Shinagawa-ku,Tokyo 141-0031 Japan
Phone: 03-5436-2633
Fax: 03-5436-2635
URL: http://www.wbsj.org/
English Translation:
Asia Club, WBSJ Volunteer Group (FURUKAWA Setsu, KANEKO Keiko, KASE Tomoko, SAKUMA Shunji, TAKEUCHI Fumie and UENO Naohiro)
Translating Editor:
Meenakshi Nagendran

What is Wild Bird Society of Japan?

Wild Bird Society of Japan is a private organization founded in 1934 which has over 45,000 members and 90 chapters throughout Japan. Its purpose is to protect birds and their habitats, to encourage more people to enjoy bird watching, and to carry on research concerning the status and habitats of birds.

Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary

Open seasons: October-March
Open hours: 9:00-16:30
Closed days: Tuesdays & Wednesdays (except national holidays)
December 26-December 30
April-September
Admission fee: Free
Address: Aza Nakasetsuri Minami, Tsurui-mura, Akan-gun, Hokkaido 085-1205 Japan
Phone: 0154-64-2620
Fax: 0154-64-2239
E-mail: tancho_sanc@wbsj.org

The purpose and background of the establishment

Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary was established by Wild Bird Society of Japan to protect Red-crowned Cranes and their habitat in 1987. In 1986, the Special Committee for Protection of Red-crowned Crane set up by the members of nature conservation groups and ornithologists at home and abroad drew up a plan to establish a bird sanctuary in Tsuruimura village for the purpose of promoting protection of Red-crowned Crane efficiently. Based on the plan, the sanctuary was established by generous cash donations from all over Japan and the cooperation of Mr. Ito Yoshitaka, who had been feeding Red-crowned Cranes on the site for a long time. The sanctuary has been financially supported by membership fees provided by the members of Wild Bird Society of Japan and other donations.

The location and facilities

Tsuruimura village, where Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary is located, lies on a dairy farm to the northwest of Kushiro Shitsugen Wetland. The sanctuary has an area of about 13ha and its land is used as pasture in summer. The north side of the site has Setsuri-gawa river, where Red-crowned Cranes roost in winter, and riverside forests of Japanese oak MIZUNARA Quercus mongolica var. crispula, willow YANAGI Salix(myrtilloides) and so on. The south and west sides are covered with pastures, and the business district of the village lies in the west side.

In winter, a part of the pasture is used as the feeding ground for Red-crowned Cranes, to which over 300 Red-crowned Cranes come flying during the peak season. There is the Nature Center in the Sanctuary which overlooks the feeding ground. The Nature Center has a crane observation room and an exhibition room, and provides explanation about Red-crowned Crane as well as various related events by our rangers. We also sell our original products.

The feeding ground in winter and Red-crowned Cranes The Nature Center Interior view of the Nature Center
The feeding ground in winter and Red-crowned Cranes The Nature Center Interior view of the Nature Center

Activities

1. Protection and conservation of the Cranes' breeding environments

(1) The establishment of Wild Bird Protection Area

Wild Bird Society of Japan protects legally unprotected areas of the Kushiro Shitsugen (Wetland) where Red-crowned Cranes breed by means of buying lands or having agreements with landowners to keep the areas preserved as Wild Bird Protection Areas. The sanctuary plays a central role in Kushiro Shitsugen. As of June 2010, there are 20 protected areas with the total of 2516.9ha, where 23 pairs are breeding.

(2) Restoration of the Cranes' nesting environment

We patrol these protected areas and do maintenance works to restore their environments if there are any environmental changes. Even though the breeding of Red-crowned Crane was not confirmed in some of these protected areas earlier, the birds began to breed there again after we restored reed beds by cutting down alders overgrown on drying marsh.

The Watanabe Wild Bird Protective Area Fureshima with an area of about 204ha (Nemuro City, Hokkaido) Cutting down alders to restore the wetland environment
The Watanabe Wild Bird Protective Area Fureshima with an area of about 204ha (Nemuro City, Hokkaido) Cutting down alders to restore the wetland environment

2. Conservation of the Cranes' wintering environments

(1) Environmental management on the Cranes' natural feeding grounds in winter

Red-crowned Cranes are fed by humans now, but they used to feed themselves in marshes and rivers which were not frozen even in midwinter. In order to increase these grounds, we do maintenance works with volunteers such as creating shores and cutting down overgrown trees around there.

Creation of the Red-crowned Cranes' natural feeding grounds in winter by volunteers Red-crowned Cranes using the riversides environmentally maintained
Creation of the Red-crowned Cranes' natural feeding grounds in winter by volunteers Red-crowned Cranes using the riversides environmentally maintained
(2) Feeding

We feed the cranes dent corns in winter. At present, it is said that the number of cranes will decrease drastically to one-tenth if humans don't feed them.

3. Researches

(1) Researches on the Cranes' natural feeding grounds in winter

As the detailed facts of the Cranes' natural feeding grounds in winter are still largely unknown, we are doing research on the areas where cranes feed naturally in winter, other than our feeding grounds, and on the environment of those natural feeding grounds. At the riversides that are environmentally managed, we are researching how those areas are used by Red-crowned Cranes.

(2) Other researches

We are measuring the amount of dent corns eaten by Red-crowned Cranes for the data to be used to reduce their dependence on feeding by humans, and are collecting basic information about Red-crowned Crane such as how many cranes come flying to our feeding grounds.

Research to find the Cranes' natural feeding grounds in winter in Tsuruimura Village Research on living things to be eaten by Red-crowned Crane in winter
Research to find the Cranes' natural feeding grounds in winter in Tsuruimura Village Research on living things to be eaten by Red-crowned Crane in winter

4. Activities of spreading knowledge and enlightenment

(1) Tancho Teachers' Guide

Tancho Teachers' Guide (TTG) is a collection of environmental educational programs made by Wild Bird Society of Japan, with which people can study about Red-crowned Cranes and their habitats. The programs are also used to spread knowledge at school classes and relevant events. Besides, we give lectures using this TTG to schoolteachers and nature guides so as to cultivate human resources who can provide explanations about Red-crowned Cranes and the importance of their conservation.

Tancho Teachers' Guide A lecture using Tancho Teachers' Guide
Tancho Teachers' Guide A lecture using Tancho Teachers' Guide
(2) Work camps for volunteers

We hold work camps for volunteers so that people can also join our conservation activities and have them do environmental management on the Cranes' natural feeding grounds in winter and so on. We accept volunteer activities by college students, too.

(3) Others

At the Nature Center, we provide explanation about Red-crowned Crane and nature information for visitors, as well as various other events. Besides, we hold photography contests which help people know about attractiveness of Red-crowned Crane and their conservation activities all over Japan.

Display of prizewinning works at the photography contest  
Display of prizewinning works at the photography contest
KONICA MINOLTA Tancho Charity