International Crane Foundation


What’s New

Africa: > What’s New

The first-ever Namibia Crane Workshop convened at Etosha Pan in northern Namibia this past May 2004. The workshop was organized by Ann and Mike Scott (who catalyzed the Overberg Crane Group in South Africa and recently moved to Namibia) and Dr. Chris Brown (Executive Director, Namibia Nature Foundation). Participants were drawn from government agencies, NGOs, and local communities in the key areas where cranes occur in Namibia.
The workshop began with a regional perspective on crane conservation from AWAC representatives, including an overview of ICF crane conservation programs in Africa, the regional status of Wattled Cranes, and the Africa Wattled Crane Program by Rich Beilfuss, the South Africa Crane Working Group by Kerryn Morrison, the Botswana Crane Working Group by Sekgowa Motsumi, and the Zambia Crane and Wetland Project by Ben Kamweneshe.

Since the workshop the Namibia Crane Working Group has launched their first area-based crane management program at the Tsumkwe pans in northeast Namibia, under the leadership of Dries Alberts and Jacob Kolbooi of the MET and members of the Nyae Nyae Conser¬vancy Management Board and Committee, and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation. With 78 Wattled Cranes recorded in April 2004 and 95 in 1990, this area probably has the largest population in Namibia. Strategies for the program include:

  • Ongoing exchange of information
  • Crane data: planning of an aerial survey, ongoing ground surveys, research (feeding; breeding) and training of field workers
  • Awareness/education: crane information sheets, poster, teachers’ resource pack, slide show and art competition, teacher training
  • Community-based natural resource management: developing crane/birding based ecotourism, crane themes in culture and crafts, bird guide training.
We are pleased to report that Osiman Mabhachi has returned to BirdLife Botswana after a brief period with another NGO in Zimbabwe, and will continue his excellent work with farm workers in the Driefontane. EWT representative Kerryn Morrison visited the BirdLife Zimbabwe team in September and was deeply impressed with their accomplishments despite the recent economic and political turmoil in Zimbabwe.

In May 2004, AWAC Mozambique representative Carlos Bento and AWAC Chair Rich Beilfuss completed extensive surveys for Wattled Cranes in southern Mozambique. They surveys covered four sites with historical records of Wattled Cranes: Banhine, Banamana, Save River floodplain, and Sao Sebastion floodplain. They recorded six Wattled Cranes (three pairs) at Banhine, all on small patches of Eleocharis-dominated marshland. They also observed nine Saddlebill Storks (3 pairs) and 18 Ostrichs. The Banhine birds are particularly interesting because of their close proximity to the South Africa border and high potential for historical mixing with that population. No Wattled Cranes were observed at Banamana but the site featured hundreds of Greater Flamingoes. The Save River floodplain supported Greater Flamingoes as well hundreds of White Pelicans and Yellowbilled Storks. The Sao Sebastion floodplain was the most impressive for Wattled Cranes, with vast expanses of Eleocharis sedge-beds that appear to be ideal breeding grounds. The team observed seven Wattled Cranes (two pairs and one pair with 1 juvenile) with minimal coverage of the area, and are planning a more intensive survey for next year.

AWAC Training Workshop and Steering Committee Meeting
Thanks to a generous grant from the Siemunpuu Foundation of Finland, AWAC representatives from 10 different countries will participate in a two-week training program in Wakkerstroom, South Africa, from 1-12 November 2004.

The objectives of the training workshop are:

  • To increase the effectiveness of organisational leadership and management
  • To develop skills in basic organisational management
  • To stimulate the organisational development of AWAC partners
  • To enhance relationships between AWAC partners
  • To provide the opportunity for international dialogue that will promote the exchange of ideas and experiences and build links among AWAC leaders.

On the evenings of November 10 and 11, also in Wakkerstroom, we will hold the fourth annual AWAC steering committee meeting. At the steering committee we will have the
opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of AWAC as a regional network,
present work from around the region over the past year, and discuss
priorities and ways forward for the next year and beyond. We also hope
to nominate the next AWAC Chair for the period 2005-2006.

Data obtained recently from CITES indicates that at least 63 Wattled Cranes were exported from Tanzania during the the last five years. Allowing for injuries and deaths during capture, handling, and transport, trade in this species may be effecting close to 40% of the population in Tanzania (approximately 200 birds). Trade in this endangered species is also reported from Zambia and Mozambique, and may be one of the most signficant factors contributing to the decline of these long-lived adult birds from the wild. Colleagues throughout the AWAC network are working to raise awareness about the impact of trade on Wattled Cranes and upgrade the species from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.
April 2004

During January-February 2004, AWAC Ethiopia representative Yilma Dellelegn Abebe hosted AWAC Chair Richard Beilfuss, WWF-Germany President Carl-Albrechet von Treuenfels, and German crane expert Gunter Nowald for an expedition to observe wintering Eurasian Cranes, Black Crowned Cranes, and Wattled Cranes in Ethiopia. The group discovered the largest group of Wattled Cranes ever recorded in Ethiopia–107 birds including 51 pairs at Boyo Wetland on the southern Rift Valley escarpment. Boyo Wetland, which consists of a shallow freshwater lake surrounded by extensive floodplain, features extensive beds of tubers of the spike rush Eleocharis that serve as the main food source for Wattled Cranes elsewhere in Africa. The presence of most of the birds in scattered pairs across the floodplain suggests that Boyo may be the main breeding grounds for Wattled Cranes in Ethiopia. Based on observations in the Bale Mountains (the only known significant breeding ground in Ethiopia with 11 pairs), the breeding season for Wattled Cranes in Ethiopia is thought to coincide with the main rainy season in the highlands, from June to August, with large flocks forming during the non-breeding season. No chicks or juveniles were observed at Boyo during the February field visit. A follow-up visit to Boyo in September will give an indication of reproductive success at the site. In 1996, 62 Wattled Cranes were observed by Abebe and colleagues in the agricultural fields surrounding Boyo. The total estimated population of Wattled Cranes in Ethiopia is 150-200 birds.

March 2004