HARBIN, August 6, Xinhua -- Twenty red-crowned cranes bred in captivity were released into the wild this year in the Zhalong National Nature Reserve, in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, sources with the reserve said.

Around 1,000 red-crowned cranes have been artificially bred in the Zhalong reserve, the world's largest captive breeding center for the endangered bird species.

The cranes at the reserve were trained to fly, hunt and survive in the wild. The reserve has been exploring ways to train the captive-bred cranes for release into the wild, to raise the crane population with a healthy genetic pedigree.

The reserve also adopted GPS technology to locate the released cranes. So far, the previously released cranes have been detected in the Yellow River Delta area in Yancheng City of east China's Jiangsu Province, as well as in the Republic of Korea.

Established in 1979, the reserve has successfully released more than 300 captive-bred red-crowned cranes into the wild. The population of captive-bred cranes in the reserve currently stands at over 500.

Covering an area of 2,100 square km in China's largest reed wetland, the reserve has diverted 2.9 billion cubic meters of water from nearby rivers to prevent wetland degradation.

Red-crowned cranes are usually found in northeast China, Russia, Japan and the Korean Peninsula. There are around 2,400 red-crowned cranes living in the wild worldwide. 

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