Community-Based Conservation of Grey Crowned Cranes and Wetlands in the Lake Victoria Basin of East Africa
The Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) was once widespread across Uganda and Kenya, a resident of the seasonal grass swamps that carpet the valley floors of the Lake Victoria catchment. In recent decades, the range and population of Grey Crowned Cranes have decreased sharply in response to ever-increasing human pressure for agriculture and livestock grazing on their wetland breeding grounds. Only a small fraction of the original wetlands of the Lake Victoria basin now remain, with most of these under imminent threat from development or from erosion and polluted runoff in the surrounding steep, hilly terrain. As these wetlands degrade and disappear, many of their important functions are lost. Not only do these wetlands provide invaluable habitat for threatened Grey Crowned Cranes and a host of other mammals and waterbirds, the serve as filters to produce clean drinking water for local communities and clean runoff to Lake Victoria downstream. In times of drought they act as giant sponges that slowly release water to maintain stream levels, while in times of deluge they absorb and retain water to minimize downstream flooding. The wetlands support lucrative fisheries, and provide a wealth of natural resources such as papyrus and reeds for baskets and other local products.
The conservation of wetlands and their rich biodiversity is thus one of the fundamental challenges of the Lake Victoria basin, and it is an overwhelming task. Lake Victoria is the third largest lake in the world, with a catchment area of 6,889,000 ha. Nearly half of the 50 million people who live in Kenya and Uganda reside in the greater basin of Lake Victoria. As this rural population grows, the demand for finite resources such as food, land, water, and fuelwood is increasing exponentially. Although both Uganda and Kenya have passed sweeping and impressive legislation to protect their wetlands, there is little hope for conservation in the long-run unless local communities can find a way to co-exist with wetlands. People must embrace and pursue the sustainable use of wetlands and their catchments as though their livelihoods depend on it. To do so, people need alternatives that are socially and economically viable, and need inspiration and assurances to undertake the risk of adopting new practices.
The International Crane Foundation is dedicated to providing experience, knowledge, and inspiration to involve local communities in finding uniquely African solutions to conservation challenges. We work in partnership with local organizations that pursue grassroots programs to tackle the root causes of environmental degradation, provide awareness and inspiration to local communities, and strive for self-reliance and sustainability in the long-run. None of our local partners in Africa better epitomize this approach than the Kipsaina Crane and Wetlands Conservation Group in Kenya and the Wildlife Clubs of Kabale and Bushenyi in Uganda.
The IUCN Adopts Motion for Minimizing the Trade in Wild Caught African Cranes….
|The Kipsaina Crane and Wetlands Conservation Group
The Kipsaina Crane and Wetlands Conservation Group (KCWCG) was formed in 1990 by Maurice Wanjala, a local pastor and youth group leader. The motto of the KCWCG is “touch one, touch all,” and the group strives to promote and actively participate in a … Read more
|The Wildlife Clubs of Uganda
In Uganda Jimmy Muheebwa-Muhoozi, born in Bushenyi District and serving as a tutor at a local primary teacher training college, founded local Wildlife Clubs to raise awareness about the plight of cranes and wetlands. With ICF support, Muheebwa-Muhoozi … Read more
|Scaling up to the Lake Victoria Basin: Program Goals
Exciting programs like the Kipsaina Crane and Wetlands Conservation Group and the revitalized Wildlife Clubs of Ugand offer great hope for the future of cranes and wetlands in the Lake Victoria basin (See_Map). They have made remarkable progress despite … Read more
|Program Partners and Supporters
The main project partners are the two core programs, the Kipsaina Crane and Wetlands Conservation Group and the Wildlife Clubs of Uganda based in Kibale, Bushenyi, and Mbarara Districts. Other partners in Kenya include the Kaisagat Environmental Conservation … Read more
Communities take action to save cranes and wetlands in the Lake Victoria basin (Beilfuss 2002) – (.pdf 1270KB)
Kipsaina Crane and Wetlands Conservation … Read more