The Demoiselle Crane – ILC President’s Symbol 2015-16

Every year, thousands of small cranes cross over the Himalayas at an altitude of 8,000m in V formation for their seasonal migration. They are known as demoiselle cranes and they are the smallest species in the crane family of birds. During the summer, they reside in the steppes of Mongolia. As winter approaches, they form groups and begin their southward journey to India. At 8,000 meters, the temperature is minus thirty Celsius and the oxygen saturation is only one third of the terrestrial oxygen level. Those brutal conditions make their migration a life or death journey in the truest sense.

This grueling route would be impossible for a small number of birds. By flying in a large V formation, each bird can make use of the backflow of air over the wings of the other birds in front of them and by doing so, reduce the total energy expended. The leading bird expends the greatest amount of energy so it is necessary to continually rotate new birds into position. The demoiselle crane depends upon the cooperation and harmony of every other member of the flock. While each bird is small, every bird has great dignity.

The determination demonstrated, as well as other characteristics like teamwork, and their family structure, have endeared the crane to multiple cultures. In Japan, the crane has traditionally been a symbol of long life. In the Japanese art of origami, the crane is the most basic and representative form that all children learn how to make. There is a custom of folding cranes and giving one to a loved one who is suffering from disease or injury as a way to say, “we wish you a quick recovery and long life.” The folding of origami cranes is a meditative act that shows the heartfelt wishes of friends and family for the ill to become well again. But the crane has also become known as a symbol of peace – not only in Japan but around the world.

We Lions have been fostering international peace and harmony through service, giving hope to all people, and giving opportunity to live with dignity. As a medical doctor, I made a career out of fighting for the dignity of human life. A doctor might be able to save 10,000 lives over the course of his career. By working together, our association can save tens of millions of lives each year through our programs.

“Peace, hope, determination, teamwork
And uniting people through service are
Central elements of my presidential theme –”


International Lions Club President
DR. Jitsuhiro Yamada

NOTE: Dr. Yamada came to our District’s Mid-Winter Conference when he was the 1st VP in January 2015.