South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane, has been on the endangered species list for years, but a recent aerial survey shows a decades-long conservation effort is bringing the bird back from the brink of extinction.
Every year, South African conservationists fly in transect patterns across the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal to determine how well the birds are doing.
“We cover over 25,000 square kilometres over 5 days and we therefore determine a minimum population size of all three of our crane species Wattled Cranes, Grey Crowned Cranes and South Africa’s national bird the Blue Crane,” said Tanya Smith, regional manager of the African Crane Conservation Programme.
Our Grey Crowned Crane population is the only increasing population in Africa and we’re certain of that.
The survey is one of the longest running of its of its kind globally, and captures crane sightings in real-time, using specialised computer software and GPS co-ordinates.
The previous 13 counts showed increasing population trends of all three species.
Conservation efforts include safeguarding the crane’s natural habitat and educating communities and land owners about their importance.
“Our Grey Crowned Crane population is the only increasing population in Africa and we’re certain of that because of the aerial survey,” said Tanya Smith, regional manager of the African Crane Conservation Programme.
South Africa’s crane population may be increasing slowly, but their habitat is dwindling worldwide.
Estimates are that Africa only has 7,000 Wattled Cranes, 35,000 Grey Crowned Cranes and 25,000 Blue Cranes left in the wild.