When school groups visit our headquarters, we often ask them which continents have cranes. Many students quickly answer — Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America! It’s a simple question, but how do you identify the specific ranges of birds that may migrate hundreds or thousands of miles each year across continents?
Building upon decades of research, we have created current range maps for the 15 species of crane on behalf of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Crane Specialist Group. The maps represent the combined knowledge of experts throughout each species’ range. The data have been gathered through direct observations by researchers and nature reserve staff, satellite and cell phone tracking of individual cranes, color banding studies, reports from local people and, of course, much discussion among the researchers and our staff.
The last time we completed a comprehensive set of crane maps was 1994. Over 20 years have brought new information to refine these historic range maps and help us focus our conservation efforts. The new maps have been prepared as part of an updated global Crane Conservation Strategy that will be published in 2018.