Wattled Crane - International Crane Foundation

International Crane Foundation



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Wattled Crane

Bugeranus carunculatus

HEIGHT: 172 cm, 6 ft
WEIGHT: 7.8 kg, 14 lbs
TREND: Probably decreasing
STATUS: IUCN: VU; Cites Appendix II; CMS II


Wattled Cranes have flaps of skin or “wattles” hanging from their chin that can indicate their mood – the wattles shrink if the crane is nervous or elongate if they are excited.


Adults – red skin on face, feathered flaps of skin or “wattles” hanging from chin, grey feathered crown, white neck, body plumage various shades of grey; juveniles – tawny body plumage, lack the bare skin on the face and have less prominent wattles.

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The Wattled Crane occurs in eleven sub-Saharan countries in Africa, including an isolated population in the highlands of Ethiopia. More than half of the world’s Wattled Cranes occur in Zambia. The single largest concentration occurs in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.


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Tubers and rhizomes of submerged sedges (particularly Eleocharis spp.), grain, grass seed and insects.


Listen to Wattled Crane calls:

Guard Call | A sharp, single call expressing alarm.


Habitat loss, especially due to changing hydrology, invasive species, unsustainable exploitation of wetlands, human disturbance, fire and conversion of grasslands.


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. The International Crane Foundation is leading efforts to secure water for key wetlands in the Zambezi River watershed, through controlled release of water from dams developed for hydropower production. These efforts not only help cranes but also provide fisheries, floodplain agriculture and grazing lands for hundreds of thousands of basin villagers.
  • 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.


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Learn more about the Wattle Crane:

Johnsgard PA. 1983. Cranes of the world. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Meine CD, Archibald GW. 1996. The cranes: status survey and conservation action plan. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.