Blue Crane Aerial Surveys in the Western Cape and Karoo in South Africa

Western Cape aerial survey team
The Western Cape aerial survey team from left to right: Pilot Mark Rule, Highland Grassland Field Officer Bradley Gibbons, Western Cape Field Officer/Leiden Conservation Graduate Fellow Christie Craig and Resource Extension Officer Pieter Botha

The African Crane Conservation Programme (ACCP), a partnership of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the International Crane Foundation, completed an aerial survey last month of the Western Cape and Karoo in South Africa with aerial assistance from The Bateleurs and financial support from Eskom, South Africa’s electric utility company. The survey will help us understand where the majority of Blue Cranes are located in these areas, as well as the density of the populations.

Western Cape Blue Crane Survey
A group of Blue Cranes forage near sheep in the Overberg region of the Western Cape.
Karoo Blue Crane survey
Senior Community Project Officer Samson Phakathi joined the team for the Karoo survey.

The Western Cape region included the Overberg region (in areas such as the Swellendam district) and the Swartland region (such as the Malmesbury district), while the Karoo included parts of the Northern Cape (such as the Hanover district) and the Eastern Cape (such as the Graaff-Reinet district).

The aerial survey was completed over four days in the Western Cape and another four in the Karoo, counting 2,155 and 6,106 cranes respectively. The team covered a large area where Blue Cranes are found, and although it was not possible to count every single Blue Crane in South Africa, the data from this survey can help the ACCP prioritize areas for the benefit of Blue Crane conservation. The ACCP is grateful to The Bateleurs and Eskom for making this aerial survey possible and a success.


Story submitted by Bradley Gibbons, Highland Grassland Field OfficerClick here to learn more about our work in Sub-Saharan Africa.