Travels with George: Sharing Experiences from Sarus and Whooping Crane Reintroductions

The International Crane Foundation, as a world center for cranes, provides extraordinary learning opportunities as well as inspiration for conservationists from around the world. We’ve been delighted to host several significant visits from China, Thailand, and Nepal this year. Following is the second of three stories on our recent visitors.

Thailand delegation exchanges experiences with Louisiana Whooping Crane reintroduction staff.The Thai

Many decades ago there were non-migratory Sarus Cranes in Thailand and non-migratory Whooping Cranes in Louisiana. Both populations were lost. Since 2011, captive breeding programs in the two countries have each provided 12-15 birds annually for releases back into the wild.

Each experiment has thus far released about 70 birds from which about 40 birds in each group have survived.

To exchange information between these parallel crane programs, we orchestrated a study-visit of the Thai to Louisiana in early April 2016, followed by time at the International Crane Foundation. The Thai were thrilled to be with their Louisiana colleagues, especially on April 11 for the hatch of the first Louisiana chick in the wild since 1939. From their experiences in Louisiana, the Thai gained invaluable training in how to study cranes once released to the wild. And at the International Crane Foundation they exchanged notes on how to rear cranes in isolation using crane-costumed humans to produce birds for release.

We are hopeful that there will be a hatch of Sarus in the wild in Cambodia when nesting happens after the arrival of the monsoons this summer.

Our sincere thanks extend to Dr. Sammy King of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Louisiana State University, to many colleagues in the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department, and to Scott Herford at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.

George ArchibaldStory submitted by Dr. George Archibald, International Crane Foundation Co-founder and Senior Conservationist. Click here to learn more about Conservation Leadership.