Sunday, 9 September 2012

Rare Birds 'Died' In Russian Leader's Latest Wildlife Mishap

Vladimir Putin's stunt with Siberian cranes this week was intended to display both his tough-guy image and his commitment toward saving endangered species.

But what it perhaps best highlighted was his curious knack for causing harm to rare animals.

Russian television on September 6 aired footage of the animal-loving president leading orphaned chick cranes in flight aboard an ultralight aircraft.

The exercise was meant to teach the critically endangered birds, who were raised in captivity, to follow the aircraft on their winter migration to Central Asia.

Putin's encounter with the chicks, however, was overshadowed by reports that two of them had died during preparations for his arrival.

A biology student at the nature reserve where the birds are raised, some 200 kilometers southeast of Moscow, revealed that one of the chicks had died after getting caught in the plane's propeller during training.

Maria Goncharova wrote on the Russian social-networking website vKontakte that several other birds were badly injured while being transported to the flight venue, on the Yamal Peninsula in the Russian Arctic.

"One more broke a beak and tore off its claws on crooked netting. Another one died due to faulty transportation...many badly cut themselves," she wrote. "And all this to fly once with Pu."

Goncharova deleted the comment several hours after posting it.


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