International Crane Foundation

Siberian Cranes, Poyang Lake

Yangtze River

Siberian Cranes, Poyang Lake

Wintering Siberian Cranes and greater white-fronted geese at Poyang Lake, China. Photo by Ji Weitao

Why We Care

Yangtze River locator mapPoyang Lake is the largest lake in the Yangtze River basin and winter home to 400,000 waterbirds, more than any other location in East Asia. Poyang provides winter habitat for almost all of the world’s critically endangered Siberian Cranes. The lake basin is threatened by hydrologic changes caused by dams and water diversion projects, as well as declining water quality that could impact the aquatic food plants on which the cranes and other waterbirds depend.


What We Do

Click to enlarge

ICF is collaborating with Poyang Lake Nature Reserve to study the linkages among cranes, aquatic plants, and water levels within the Poyang Lake basin, a long-term study that is providing vital information for evaluating future water development projects and lake management issues. ICF recently worked with the IUCN SSC Crane Specialist Group to prepare a comprehensive report on the management of the Poyang Lake wetlands. Learn more and download full versions of the report in English or in Chinese.

Follow ICF Poyang on TwitterFollow ICF Research Associate James Burnham, as he reports from the field at Poyang Lake, China. Click here to begin following ICF Poyang on Twitter.




In spring five rivers from the south swell with rains as they flow into Poyang Lake, wintering area for the majority of the world’s Siberian Cranes.  In summer, the much larger Yangtze River rises with floods coming from the west, often sending water into the lake. The water level within the lake basin fluctuates by as much as 11 meters between summer and winter.

This scale of change, and the strength of the summer flooding, has prevented development of major parts of this wetland and protected the Siberian Crane’s winter home; however changes caused by dams and other water development projects could alter this delicate system and the future for Siberian Cranes.

Read the Story 

Poyang Lake, Mike Endres

Photo by Mike Endres/Little Wing Photo