Red-headed crane doctor

Published: 14/03/2009 05:00


That is the nickname photographers in the Mekong Delta call doctor, photographer Doan Hong from Dong Thap province, who has a strange passion for red-headed cranes.

Doan Hong (photo) is an amateur photographer who got involved in photography much later than most other cameramen who love taking photos of red-headed cranes like him. But Doan Hong is the one who has the largest number of photos of this species of birds. Because of his love for red-headed cranes, he has become virtually an expert on this species.

As the Director of the Dong Thap Department of Health, Doctor Doan Hong is very busy so he doesn’t have much time for his avocation like professional photographers. But his passion for red-headed cranes has helped him overcome problems of time.

Many years now, hearing that red-headed cranes have arrived in Tram Chim sanctuary, he leaves home on the first day of the lunar New Year to go to Tram Chim to take photos of birds.

The road from his home to Tram Chim National Park is nearly one hundred kilometres so Doan Hong has to depart at 1am in the morning to capture red-headed cranes’ activities. He arrives home at 10 in the evening.

For the past ten years, he has always spent his weekends with red-headed cranes whenever they returned to Tram Chim National Park. He has been injured at least three times while shooting photos of red-headed cranes.

Thanks to his patience, Doan Hong has taken many nice photos of red-headed cranes, including one entitled “Cranes come to field”, which won the gold medal of a photo contest in Sri Lanka in 2000.

“I was born in Dong Thap Muoi so I knew and loved red-headed cranes when I was a child,” Hong said.

Over ten years ago, as scientists warned about the extinction of red-headed cranes, Hong was afraid that one day he wouldn’t see them anymore, so he decided to take photos of them for archives.

He bought a camera and began taking photos. From a doctor, Doan Hong has become a photographer, thanks to red-headed cranes.

His passion for red-headed cranes has helped the doctor have the largest collection and the most beautiful photos of red-headed cranes. He has won over 20 photographic prizes for photos of red-headed cranes.

For him, a prize is not the goal, but the discovery of the life of this species of bird. He spent time and burnt hundreds of rolls of film to capture every move of red-headed cranes to help scientists have more materials.

He has never held a solo exhibition, but annually presents hundreds of photos of red-headed cranes to research institutions and scientists. A photo that he presented to the International Crane Preservation Association is said to be worth $1,000.

He said initially he used hundreds of rolls of film but didn’t get one good photo of red-headed cranes.

After over ten years taking photos of red-headed cranes, Doan Hong’s knowledge of red-headed cranes can compare to experts’. He has written many articles to call for the preservation of this species of birds.

“The Mekong Delta has less than 1,000 red-headed cranes. If each year 100 cranes are lost, we will not have a crane in 10 years,” he said.


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