Notes from the President: New Wattled Crane Populations Discovered in Angola

Bulozi Plain ecosystems. Photos by Rich Beilfuss

I’ve just returned to South Africa following a remarkable few days of aerial surveys in Angola, and a great visit with our team in Zambia prior to that.

In Angola, we did the first-ever wildlife survey of the Zambezi River headwaters (called the Bulozi Plain), an absolutely massive floodplain area that may well be the largest wetland system in Africa. We flew 14 hours over this region in a small Cessna plane, with ecologist John Mendelsohn from Namibia, two Angolan biologists, David and Sara Fernandes, and International Crane Foundation supporter Tom Leiden.

Wattled Crane family
Wattled Crane habitat on the Bulozi Plain

We discovered three previously unrecorded populations of Wattled Cranes, including two breeding grounds.  I was especially excited that one of the breeding grounds is contiguous with the Liuwa Plains of Zambia, where we have been involved for several years – an excellent opportunity for a future transboundary Ramsar “Wetland of International Importance” or new protected area. We saw Wattled Crane pairs with chicks that ranged from about 2-4 months old.

I am grateful to Tom Leiden for supporting this trip, and our work in Africa, and to my Executive Administrative Assistant Stormy for a lot of complicated last-minute logistics (including 14 flights!)

Red lechwe antelope that co-occur with Wattled Cranes
Zambezi River near Luena confluence
Upper Lungwebungu River
Bulozi Termitaria floodplain – the green circles are termite mounds!

Story submitted by Rich Beilfuss, International Crane Foundation President & CEO. Click here to learn more about our work in Sub-saharan Africa.