On January 31, a group of 19 students of the 9th and 10th grade of the German International School Seoul together with their teachers visited the inner-Korean border in Cheolwon. The trip was organized by the representative of Hanns-Seidel-Foundation Korea and Birds Korea member Dr. Bernhard Seliger to raise awareness of the valuable habitats and historical legacy of the border area. The trip started with a visit to the wild animal hospital at the site of the newly opened “DMZ Peace town for Migratory Bird”. The hospital, which cares for hurt wild animals, among them currently Cinereous Vultures, Eagle Owls, White-naped cranes, wild cats and others, has been a long-time NGO project. In the educational building of the “DMZ Peace town for Migratory Birds”, students could experience more about the ecology of migratory birds. Outside, Cinerous Vultures flow over the building. It can only be hoped that the superb educational facility does not remain a monument to a rapidly declining habitat, but will also lead to profound efforts for preserving the remaining habitat for cranes in Cheolwon, which is under threat from constant construction projects in agriculture, infrastructure, and for tourism.
In the Civilian Control Zone, students also saw White-naped cranes and Red-crowned cranes. Recently, due to habitat loss in other parts of Korea, the area concentrates more and more of these rare birds. A tour of the Peace Observatory overlooking the DMZ and the completely destroyed old town of Cheolwon gave an insight into the tragic history of the region. Hopefully, a more peaceful future will not lead to another tragic loss of habitat for the migratory birds now depending on this area.
The students at the Wild Animal Hospital
Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius Monachus)
The newly-built “DMZ Peace Town for Migratory Birds”
Cheolwon plain – the most important habitat for cranes on the Korean Peninsula is under threat from constant new construction projects, including road, concrete pipes, hothouses etc.