Sub-saharan Africa - International Crane Foundation

International Crane Foundation



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Sub-saharan Africa

Sub-saharan Africa


In order to protect the cranes of Sub-Saharan Africa, we must address large-scale threats that will ultimately benefit far more than cranes, including local communities, economies and other species. In close collaboration with our regional partner, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, our work includes:


The wetlands of Sub-Saharan Africa are home to six of the world’s 15 species of cranes, including resident Grey Crowned, Black Crowned, Wattled and Blue Cranes, and wintering Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes. These iconic cranes face many threats, fueled by growing demands for land, water, energy and other natural resources throughout Africa.


Click on the above image to view our webinar playlist – African Cranes, Wetlands and Communities. Wattled Crane photo by Daniel Dolpire.

Reducing the impact of global trade on all African crane species. We are:

  • Monitoring the supply routes of cranes, from capture to final destinations, in key hotspots for illegal trade in Africa. We are also reducing the need for wild-caught cranes by participating in and supporting global captive management and breeding programs.
  • Reducing demand for wild-caught cranes by creating local, national and international awareness of the status of Africa’s resident cranes and the threat that trade poses to wild populations.
  • Improving and enforcing policies that govern the trade of cranes and strengthening the consequences of engaging in illegal trade.

“Live-trapping for illegal trade is driving the decline in crowned crane numbers and is a major threat to the survival of both species.”

Read more about the illegal trade of Africa’s crowned cranes.


Restoring large floodplains that sustain Wattled Cranes in Southern Africa, and isolated populations in Ethiopia and South Africa. We are:

  • Ensuring seasonal water cycles in the Zambezi River basin through changes in the operation of existing dams, design and placement of new dams and sustainable water management policies in the headwaters region.
  • Implementing management plans and practices to control invasive species, fire and human disturbance in the Kafue Flats, Bangweulu Swamps and Liuwa Plain of Zambia, and the Zambezi Delta of Mozambique.
  • Applying monitoring and management practices that quantify the value of improved water management for Wattled Cranes and other target species, people and broader socio-economic interests.
  • Integrating river basin management and climate change adaptation in the region.

“Wattled Cranes are excellent indicators of healthy wetlands and watersheds.”

Read more about our Wattled Crane conservation program in Southern Africa.


Engaging communities in the conservation of Grey Crowned Cranes and their wetland habitats across East and Southern Africa. We are:

  • Implementing integrated, community-based projects to secure significant breeding sites for the Grey Crowned Cranes in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, using regional campaigns to increase pride in the cranes and identifying and training local leaders for crane and wetland conservation.
  • Developing a sustainable finance mechanism to support long-term community conservation efforts for key crane sites with tools like carbon trading markets and payment for ecosystem service functions.
  • Finding and advocating for ways to reduce the conflict between farmers and Grey Crowned Cranes in agricultural landscapes where substantial crop damage occurs.

“The Grey Crowned Crane – once common across the wetlands and grasslands of eastern and southern Africa – has declined by more than 80% over the last twenty-five years, and is now an endangered species.”

Read more about our Grey Crowned Crane conservation programs in East and Southern Africa.



Conserving Blue Cranes on agricultural landscapes in South Africa. We are:

  • Developing and implementing a conservation plan for Blue Cranes, based on a clear understanding of how cranes use the agricultural systems in the Western Cape and the probable impacts of climate change on land use and agricultural practices.
  • Seeking to minimize the impact of mining and other land development on critical Blue Crane breeding and roosting sites.
  • Implementing a media and marketing campaign to honor Blue Cranes as the national bird in South Africa, a designation that will drive public engagement in their protection.

Photo by Daniel Dolpire
Photo by Daniel Dolpire

Understanding and managing Black Crowned Cranes on their breeding grounds in West and Central Africa. We are:

  • Conducting range-wide status surveys to determine the population and distribution of, and threats to Black Crowned Cranes across West and Central Africa.
  • Developing new community-based conservation projects for Black Crowned Cranes, linked to the broader wetland management programs in West and Central Africa.
  • Securing Black Crowned Cranes in key wetlands across the agricultural landscapes of Ethiopia.

Black Crowned Cranes, photo by Crane Wu
Photo by Crane Wu


Our work in Sub-Saharan Africa is achieved through a strong partnership between the International Crane Foundation and the Endangered Wildlife Trust of South Africa, together with many trusted local partners.


Dr. Adalbert Aine-omucunguzi
East Africa Regional Manager

Shimelis Aynalem

Shimelis Aynalem
Research Associate (Ethiopia)


David Banda
Community Relations Manger


Dr. Rich Beilfuss
President and CEO

Carlos Bento

Carlos Bento
Research Associate


Richard Berridge
Grants Officer – Africa
(United Kingdom)


Eva Bii
Kingwal Wetland Field Assistant


Pieter Botha
Resource Extension Officer
(South Africa)


Stacey Chibiya
Financial and Administrative Officer


Cynthia Chigangaidze
Senior Administrator
(South Africa)


Christie Craig
Blue Crane PhD Candidate & Western Cape Field Officer, Leiden Conservation Graduate Fellow
(South Africa)


Floyd Kelvin Steven
Research Associate


Bradley Gibbons
Highland Grassland Field Officer
(South Africa)


Dr. Lara Jordan
Drakensberg Coordinator
(South Africa)


Collins Luseka
Leiden Conservation Western Kenya Field Assistant


David Marneweck
Conservation Strategy Officer
(South Africa)


Kerryn Morrison
Vice President International – Africa
(South Africa)


Daniel Munana
Field Coordinator


Zeneb Musiimire
East Africa Community Engagement Specialist

Dr Joseph Mwangi_150

Dr. Joseph Mwangi
Kenya Coordinator


Janat Nabuuma
Africa Regional Finance and Administration Officer


Vivian Nekesa
Western Kenya Field Coordinator

Olivier Ngabonziza

Olivier  Ngabonziza
Field Assistant


Tendai Nyamushamba
Senior Finance and Governance Officer
(South Africa)


Phiona Orishaba
Field Officer
(Southwest Uganda)


Samson Phakathi
Senior Community Project Officer
(South Africa)

Griffin Shanungu

Griffin Shanungu
Zambia Country Coordinator


Mwape Sichilongo
Southern African Floodplains Regional Manager

Hadis Tadele

Hadis Tadele
Research Associate


John Tumusiime
Field Research Assistant


Gilbert Tyebwa
Field Officer
(Southcentral Uganda)


Dr. Damian Walters
South African Regional Manager
(South Africa)

Maurice Wanjala

Maurice Wanjala
Western Kenya Kipsaina Crane and Wetland Conservation Group Coordinator


Endangered Wildlife Trust


Crane Specialist Group


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