Sept. 6 - Russian President Vladimir Putin helps young cranes bred in captivity to migrate for the first time. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has tracked a Siberian tiger and posed with a polar bear, on Wednesday (September 5) took his love of wildlife to new heights by flying with cranes - to lead them on a migration route. Putin has communed with wild animals several times as part of an effort to create the image of a clean-living, nature-loving person during his 12 years as Russia's paramount leader. This time around, he donned a baggy white costume with a spacious helmet and goggles and flew in a motorised deltaplane light aircraft surrounded by several young cranes that were born in captivity, in order to help introduce them to the wild. The exercise in the Yamal peninsula was aimed at prompting the birds to follow the plane and hence prepare them for their migration route - part of the "Flight of Hope" project to protect the endangered, white Siberian Crane. Visibly pleased, Putin said it had been his idea to fly the deltaplane, although it appeared to be steered most of the time by another person in a similar white costume sitting behind him.