Notes from the President – From the Field webinars providing conservation inspiration

Dear Friends,

I am really enjoying our From the Field webinars these past few weeks, a great way to keep in touch with our team around the world during this long period of home-sequester. Their stories give me inspiration and hope during these challenging times.

Anne Lacy, our crane research coordinator, started us off with the story of Sandhill Cranes here in North America and why the conservation of abundance matters. Thirty years ago, when I first started working with the International Crane Foundation, I had never even seen a Sandhill Crane in southern Wisconsin. Today they are here and there and everywhere! We are learning to live side-by-side with Sandhill Cranes on our farms and city parks. Their story is one of the great conservation success stories of our country.

Tanya Smith, our regional manager for South Africa, shared their remarkable conservation success story. Three threatened crane species – Grey Crowned, Wattled, and Blue Cranes – have recovered from drastic declines and are now increasing steadily. Much of what we do across the African continent is modeled after the innovative work of our team in South Africa – engaging crane custodians to secure crane habitats, combatting illegal trade, and reducing powerline collisions.

Liz Smith, who heads up all our North America programs, took us on a journey along the long migration route of the naturally wild population of Whooping Cranes, from Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to the coast of Texas. The Whooping Crane recovery from only 16 birds in 1941 to more than 500 today is a celebration of the Endangered Species Act, hunting regulation, wetland conservation, and the power of partnership between conservation groups, private citizens, government agencies, and all who care about our natural world.

Last week I especially loved hearing from our team of partners and students in Russia and China, who joined Spike Millington, our East Asia regional leader, in telling the story of the Critical Endangered Siberian Crane, another long-distant migrant that is recovering steadily in East Asia to more than 4,000 birds today. The future of this species depends on the continued international cooperation and goodwill our three countries have shared for crane conservation for decades.

This week Thursday at 11 a.m. Central Time, we travel to the western U.S. to learn about the efforts of Gary Ivey, research associate of the west coast crane working group, to secure Sandhill Cranes along their Pacific Flyway. Gary is guiding environmental impact assessments and National Wildlife Refuge managers in the face of increasing water scarcity for key breeding and wintering areas. Register here.

In the coming weeks, I look forward to sharing new conservation success stories as our stay-at-home restrictions lessen a bit and our teams head (safely) back to the field. We’ll be monitoring the young chicks just hatching from reintroduced Whooping Cranes nests in Wisconsin, checking on stop-over conditions for migrating Siberian Cranes at Momoge Nature Reserve, supporting the crane custodians who make sure wetlands in Uganda and Kenya remain safe for cranes and people during the global pandemic, and much more.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5, is #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity during this unprecedented period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I hope you will join us in supporting the amazing work our staff does around the world, keeping wetlands and flyways safe for cranes and the people who share them.

Wishing you good health and peace in the days ahead,

Rich Beilfuss
President and CEO