African Crane Trade

Grey Crowned Crane, photo by Shawn Oleson

Crowned cranes, once thought to be among the most secure of all cranes, are threatened by capture
for local domestication and international trade markets. Photo by Shawn Oleson

Take Action! Share this film and spread the word that Grey Crowned Cranes need our help!

In response to the plight of the Grey Crowned Crane, ICF and the Endangered Wildlife Trust are proud to announce the release of the new video Grey Crowned Cranes Need Our Help!

This four-minute video is an important tool for raising awareness of the severe threat that trade poses to the species’ survival and helps address one of the greatest needs: alerting captive facilities, wildlife authorities and the public about actions they can take to safeguard this charismatic species.

Donate now to support the African Crane Trade Project*

*On our donation form, please enter "African Crane Trade" in the Other category to designate your gift to this project.


Grey Crowned and Black Crowned Cranes, icons of the African landscape and once considered the most secure of African cranes, have dramatically declined in the wild over the last several decades. In response, Black Crowned Cranes have been uplisted to Vulnerable and Grey Crowned Cranes to Endangered under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data Book.

Although habitat loss is a significant threat for these species, trade in live cranes from the wild to captive facilities around the world for display is believed to be the main cause for their dramatic decline.

Read the Story

Why We Care

Africa’s four crane species, Grey and Black Crowned, Blue and Wattled Cranes, are taken from the wild for local domestication and international trade markets. This trade is one of the primary threats to Black and Grey Crowned Cranes, with a significant impact on their wild populations.

What We Do

Download "How Zoos Can Help" fact sheetThe African Crane Trade Project is developing a model program to reduce the impact of captive crane trade on wild cranes by targeting supply within Africa and demand both within Africa and globally.

Our efforts focus on understanding the complex supply and demand chains that affect cranes; creating awareness of the status of Africa’s resident cranes and the threat that trade poses to wild populations; and advocating for changes in policies and legislation that govern the trade in cranes, both locally and internationally.

Download our How Zoos Can Help fact sheet (right) to learn how zoos can become involved, and view our video on the Shijiazhuang Zoo's Grey Crowned Crane Celebration in eastern China in June 2013.

uganda rescue

Learn more about African crane trade through the story of two Grey Crowned Crane chicks rescued from traders by ICF colleague Jimmy Muheebwa, Project Coordinator for Nature Uganda.


The African Crane Trade Project is led by the International Crane Foundation/Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership for African Cranes.

Special thanks to our colleagues who have provided support for the African Crane Trade Project:

Abilene Zoo
Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Dohmen Family Foundation
Miami Zoo
Weltvogelpark Walsrode

Blue Crane release, photo by Bradley GibbonsIn February 2010 Endangered Wildlife Trust staff returned four Blue Cranes to the Karoo in South Africa. The cranes were confiscated from traders who had illegally captured the birds from the wild. Three of the cranes are pictured, with wraps to keep them calm during the transfer, just prior to release. Photo by Bradley Gibbons, Endangered Wildlife Trust