Firsts - International Crane Foundation

International Crane Foundation



Oh, the places we’ll go! From pioneering firsts in breeding to innovative reintroduction techniques, historic population surveys and protecting millions of hectares of wetlands, our history illustrates our global impact. Here are a few of our firsts:

1970s | Co-founder Ron Sauey studying Siberian Cranes in India.

1970s: Co-founder Ron Sauey brings international attention to the plight of the Siberian Crane through his pioneering research on the population’s wintering grounds in India.

1972: Co-founder George Archibald spearheads a campaign to protect wetlands on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, where he discovers a breeding population of Red-crowned Cranes. This insight leads to the realization that the majority of Red-crowned Cranes in Japan are non-migratory.

1973: The International Crane Foundation “hatches”

1974 -1977: George discovers the Korean Demilitarized Zone is a major wintering area for Red-crowned Cranes. He then leads a successful campaign to save the Han River estuary – a critical crane wintering and migratory area located in the Demilitarized Zone.

1975: First Red-crowned Cranes, Tancho and Tsuru, hatch in the western hemisphere.

1976: First Hooded Crane hatches in captivity.

1977: Discovery that Lake Abi-i-Estada, Afghanistan is a migration rest stop for Siberian Cranes that winter in India.

1979: Brolgas hatch for the first time in North America.

Dr. Rob Horwich pioneering costume rearing at the International Crane Foundation

1980s | Dr. Rob Horwich pioneers isolation-rearing at our headquarters. Pictured is an early version of the costume developed to rear Sandhill Crane chicks.

1981: Dushenka, the first Siberian Crane bred in captivity, hatches.

1984-86: Pioneer “isolation rearing” efforts to release captive cranes into the wild.

1985: International Crane Foundation receives Black-necked Cranes from China, making the Foundation the only facility to have all fifteen crane species.

1988: International Crane Foundation biologists begin to assist Vietnamese colleagues with restoring and managing Tram Chim National Park.

1989: As the expertise of the staff grows, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, home to nearly all captive Whooping Cranes, sends half of their flock to the International Crane Foundation.

1990: First Black-necked Crane hatches in North America.

1990s: The International Crane Foundation plays a leadership role in bringing Russians and Chinese together to preserve the wild character of the Amur River, which forms the eastern border between the two countries. The Amur River Basin is home to four species of endangered cranes plus many other rare species of plants and animals, including the Siberian tiger and Siberian leopard.

1992: Help create Tram Chim National Park, the first wetland national park in Vietnam.

1992: The International Crane Foundation leads the effort to establish a Whooping Crane Health Advisory Team. The team consists of veterinary and wildlife disease specialists that consult with the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team to help foster recovery goals. The International Crane Foundation has led this team for more than 25 years.

1993: First continent-wide meeting on crane and wetland conservation in Maun, Botswana.

1993: First hatch of a Wattled Crane, making the International Crane Foundation the first institution to successfully breed all fifteen species.

1994: Assist Russian colleagues in creating Muraviovka Park, Russia’s first privately-managed protected area since 1918.

1994: The International Crane Foundation begins an innovative community-based conservation and economic development project in southwestern China for villagers living in the Cao Hai Nature Reserve, home to Black-necked and Eurasian Cranes.

1996: Through collaboration with colleagues in Russia, discover breeding grounds of western Siberian Crane population that winters in Iran.

1999: Discover Boeung Prek Lapouv wetland in Takeo Province, Cambodia – an important wintering site for the Eastern Sarus Crane. Boeung Prek Lapouv becomes a Sarus Crane sanctuary in 2007.

1999: The Foundation is a founding member of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a group of non-profit and governmental organizations formed to establish an eastern migratory population of Whooping Cranes in the United States.

1999-2000: First range-wide survey and population estimate of Black Crowned Cranes in West and Central Africa.

2001-2002: First range-wide survey and population estimate of Wattled Cranes in 11 countries in Africa.

2002: The Mekong University Network is established to train the next generation of wetland researchers and conservationists in Southeast Asia.

2003: The International Crane Foundation receives a Global Environment Fund (GEF) grant for the conservation of major wetlands used by Siberian Cranes in western and eastern Asia.

2004: Establish Phu My Project, the first community-based wetland and crane conservation project in Vietnam. In January 2016, Phu My becomes the first species and habitat protection area established under the auspices of Vietnam’s Law on Biodiversity.

2005: The International Crane Foundation and Endangered Wildlife Trust officially become partners for the conservation of cranes in Africa.

2005: Discover major Wattled Crane breeding grounds at Boyo Wetland in Ethiopia.

2005: First, and largest, Ramsar Site in Mozambique is established to protect the Zambezi Delta, home to Wattled Cranes and many other wildlife species.

2005: The Foundation raises the first cohort of Direct Autumn Release Whooping Cranes. The chicks are costume-raised at our headquarters and released in Wisconsin their first fall near adult cranes.

2006: The first wild Whooping Crane chick hatches and fledges in the reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population.

2008: The first river basin agreement is established between water authorities, hydrologic dam operators, universities and non-governmental organizations for environmental flow management of the Zambezi River in East Africa.

2008: Two new Black-necked Crane migration routes in southwest China are discovered by International Crane Foundation and colleagues.

2009-2014: International Crane Foundation partners with multi-agency team that is the first to safely capture wild Whooping Cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, for groundbreaking spatial and health research along the population’s North American central flyway.

2012: The first long-term monitoring program across South Asia is launched to track 1,000 breeding Sarus Crane pairs and 18 additional waterbird species that thrive in agricultural landscapes.

2014: Approximately 150,000 acres are proclaimed a Protected Environment in South Africa’s Lake’s District, Chrissiesmeer, protecting key habitat for Blue, Grey Crowned and Wattled Cranes.

2015: Establish the Myanmar Crane Team in collaboration with Yangon University, Myanmar.

2016: International Crane Foundation launches “I Give a Whoop” campaign designed to increase awareness about Whooping Cranes in local communities that live near the endangered species.

2017: Discover new population of Wattled Cranes at Melka Wakena reservoir, Ethiopia, which doubles the estimated number of Wattled Cranes in the country.