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Russian president Vladimir Putin has reprised his macho man image by taking off in a deltaplane to lead a flock of hand-reared cranes to more hospitable territory.

In the latest stunt, Putin donned a baggy white suit and flew a light aircraft to lead a flock of endangered Siberian cranes to warmer territory.

Conservationists at the Oksky nature reserve in the remote Yamal region in northern Russia needed a head bird to persuade six cranes born in captivity to start their winter migration to Central Asia.

Putin, 59, answered the call of the wild, helping his six feathered followers for the pleasure of photographers and spin doctors.

"You have to be able to fly. You have to be adaptable, to be able to do the same turns that cranes make. We know that he can do it," the director of the nature reserve, Yuri Markin, told Russian News Service radio.

Despite the carefully chreographed photoshoot, however, Putin's co-pilot seemed to do most of the flying.

"They got used to it. They are not afraid. They are overtaking, approaching the wing from the left, from the right, from above. Well done," Putin said after landing.

The president's flight came as part of the "Flight of Hope" project which aims to protect the white birds from extinction. Just 3,200 Siberian white cranes survive in the wild.

In previous stunts, shoring up the ex-KGB spy's image as an action-loving alpha male, Putin drove a Formula One race car, went whale-hunting with a crossbow, posed with a polar bear, rode a horse chest naked, shot a tiger and showed off his judo black belt expertise.