In September 26, 2009 the Fourth Crane Festival was celebrated in Karamendy village - Kazakhstan, Kostanay region. The main aim of the event was improvement of nature protection activity and formation of a responsible attitude in the young generation to the problems of environmental protection and biodiversity conservation at the key wetland sites - Naurzum Lake System (Naurzum district); Tyuntyugur-Zhanshura Lake System (Karasu district); Zharsor-Urkash and Kulykol - Taldykol Lake Systems (Kamystin district) – the global significance of which is recognized on the international level - on 7 May 2009 – all four lake systems were included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Site List).
The festival was organized within the framework of UNEP/GEF/ICF "Development of a Wetland Site and Flyway Network for Conservation of the Siberian Crane and Other Waterbirds in Asia" international project. Teachers of local schools, NGOs, the Naurzum Reserve, akimat of Naurzum district, the departments on education, culture and language development, the departments on internal policy, local inhabitants and businessmen provided support in the organization of the festival.
More than 500 bird species inhabit Kazakhstan, about 380 species of which migrate covering great distances. Birds marked with rings in the country were registered on the territory of 46 states. The territory of Kazakhstan, which in the opinion of ornithologists occupies a unique geographical position, is crossed by transcontinental bird flyways connecting the areas in the north from Finland to Yakutsk and from the South Africa to Malaysia in the south. The decoration of the fauna of the Kostanay region nature is cranes. The vast areas of North Kazakhstan have been crossed by the flyways of three species of these birds since times immemorial: the Common Crane, the Demoiselle Crane and the Siberian Crane - Sterh, critically endangered species, a subject of special attention of the festival. No more than ten of these amazing birds, which fly from the nesting grounds to the wintering grounds covering more than six thousands kilometers are registered on the territory of Kazakhstan every year.
The celebration of the Crane Festival in Kazakhstan has become a good tradition. Four Festivals, as a means of working with the population, were organized from 2006 to 2009 - 3 countries, 6 cities and 11 districts were covered. About 2000 schoolchildren including from Russia took part in the First Crane Festival in 2006, and in 2007 the Crane Festival was organized on the Republican level already, more than 13,600 schoolchildren from 10 districts, 5 cities of Kazakhstan and Russia took part in it. More than 14,000 children participated in the Festival 2008.
The Festival 2009 gathered guests and participant from many regions of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Astana city, Taraz city, Lisakovsk city, Rudniy city, Sarykol, Fedorovsk, Auliekol, Mendykarin, Kostanay, Kamystin and Naurzum districts. Schoolchildern from Semey city, Arkalyk city, Beloyar Secondary School of Sverdlovsk region of the Russian Federation also took part in the contest of the festival. In total, more than 38,000 children took part in the contest, and more than 300 participants were present at the Gala-concert. The guests of the festival were mayors and representatives of local administrative and legislative bodies, the manager of Siberian Crane Wetland Project V. Inyutina, the project experts, the representatives of the Department of Internal Policy of Kostanay region, the department ofwork with youth, the Institute of Refresher Courses for Teachers, the Centre on the problem of sound lifestyle formation, the Naurzum State Natural Reserve, deputies of the akim, heads of district departments and institutions and many others.
The festival in 2009 was of great international importance: The Naurzum Lake System, Urkash –Zharsor Lake System, Tyuntyugur - Zhanshura, Kulykol - Taldykol, key important bird areas of the project of Naurzum, Kamystin and Karasu districts – were included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance and in the global Western/Central Asian Site Network for the Siberian Crane and other migratory birds. The Manager of the Siberian Crane Wetland Project delivered the Certificates of two Conventions: the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (the Bonn Convention) to district akimat (district administration) representatives.
An exhibition of flowers, drawings and homemade articles of schoolchildren denoted to the Crane Day was organized during the festival. The culmination of the holiday was a Gala - concert dedicated to cranes. They sang nice songs and the guests enjoyed dances with pleasure. Contest participants and winners of the regional contests "Golden Mike" and "Golden Voice", of the republican contest "Okzhetpes Gathers Friends" and international contests participated in the concert. Each participant was a star, and a "Dance of Little Cranes" performed by small children from "Baldyrgan" kindergarten was of great delight for spectators. The film "Naurzum is the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site", prepared within the framework UNEP/GEF Siberian Crane Wetland Project, was demonstrated during the festival. An International Climate Campaign (www.350.org) aimed at attracting public attention to the problems of climate change was held.
In the course of the Gala – concert, international and local sponsors congratulated the participants. Many organizations supported this holiday, which presented the children with the joy of competition and victory. The Organizational Committee expresses special thanks to the main sponsor of the Festival – the International Siberian Crane Wetland Project in the person of Project Manager Vera Inyutina, as well as the Working Group on the Cranes of Eurasia and the Secretariat of the Bonn Convention for providing prizes and distributing materials for participant of the Festival. The atlases, booklets, banners and certificates were delivered to authorities’ representatives, departments of education, and participants in the festival.
Dokuchayev Secondary School Club of senior students also provided great assistance in the organization and celebration of the festival. The children helped to decorate the hall and exhibition, met delegations, and their performance was a nice part of the Gala - concert program. An evaluation commission headed by the deputy director of the Naurzum Reserve on scientific activity M.Zeinelova was created. The Reserve organized excursions on its territory and in the museum for the guests of the festival.
All winners of the festival were awarded with diplomas, certificates and prize. Along with the Project, which rewarded all prizewinners with Festival memorable presents, the prizes were also presented by: the Association on the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK), the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia, akimats (administrations), the departments on culture and development of languages, district and children libraries, teachers, librarians and local businessmen.
The festival winner
-- photos by A. Moisseev and T. Sabitova