Great news from Zambia! We just completed 29 hours of intensive aerial surveys over the Kafue Flats, and our preliminary estimate of the number of Wattled Cranes is more than 2,300 – the largest population of Wattled Cranes in the world and the highest count anywhere since the 1980s!
While vociferousness is typically associated with cranes – “the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution” to quote Aldo Leopold – one of the largest of the 15 species, the Wattled Crane of Africa, is usually silent. Occasionally one might hear a piercing high-pitched Guard Call or Flight Call and on extremely rare occasions a short duet or Unison Call by a mated pair that lasts but a few seconds. If you are close to a pair or family of Wattled Cranes, one can frequently hear the low burr-like Contact Call, perhaps an expression of proximity and assurance.
ICF has been awarded two $25,000 grants from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). The conservation grants recognize ICF’s efforts to protect critical habitats for threatened cranes while engaging local communities in Vietnam and South Africa.
A major milestone for the conservation of South Africa’s grasslands was reached on January 22, 2014 when 60,230 ha of South Africa’s Lakes District, Chrissiesmeer, was proclaimed as a Protected Environment!
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the International Crane Foundation (ICF), who have been cross-continental partners since 1994, both celebrated 40 years of pioneering conservation action in 2013. The EWT’s African Crane Conservation Programme (EWT-ACCP) and the ICF formalized their working arrangement in 2006, and since then the partnership has gone on to deliver real and positive impacts on the status of cranes and communities across the African continent.
Together with ICF’s excellent colleague, Griffin Shanungu of the Zambia Wildlife Authroity, I recently had the privilege of spending four days in Lochinvar National Park (LNP) in central Zambia, a park that includes about 8 percent of the acreage of the vast Kafue Flats – a floodplain of the Kafue River and a major habitat for Wattled Cranes.
Zambia is the third leg of my travels in Africa and a perfect final destination. Zambia is truly a wetland paradise, with eight “Wetlands of International Importance” under the Ramsar Convention covering a surface area of nearly 40,000 square kilometers. These include some of the most important wetlands in Africa for cranes.
Following a trail blazed by German crane colleagues and through transportation gratis ICF’s official Airline, Lufthansa, I spent nineteen memorable days in Ethiopian landscapes and sunshine. The visit perhaps will, with good fortune, result in the acceleration in the study and conservation of wetlands vital to more than 1,368 Black Crowned Cranes and 213 Wattled Cranes and uncountable thousands (for me at least) of migrant Eurasian Cranes that we observed.
The International Crane Foundation (ICF), together with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Museum of Natural History and other key partners in Mozambique, congratulate the Government of Mozambique for their wise decision to not allow the dredging of the lower Zambezi River and Delta for coal barging.
ICF’s President and CEO, Dr. Richard Beilfuss, was deeply involved in preparing the Environmental Impact Assessment and subsequent communications with the Mozambique Ministry of Environment concerning the need for a holistic, ecosystems approach to Zambezi River basin development.