Crane counts fly high in KZN
This year KwaZulu-Natal celebrates a milestone in crane conservation, when Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Endangered Wildlife Trust undertake the 20th annual crane survey.
KwaZulu-Natal is home to all three of South Africa's crane species, all of which are threatened. Around 85% of the country's estimated 250 wattled cranes are found in the Drakensberg mountains and foothills. This is also where 60% of SA's grey crowned cranes reside, currently estimated to be between 5 500 and 6 500 birds. In the province's grasslands, around 1 000 blue cranes make their home.
Every year an aerial survey takes place during June and July. This is when wattled cranes breed, and it's also the time of year when grey crowned cranes and blue cranes flock together.
The aerial survey covers around 20 000km2 in five days. The main aims of the survey are to:
- determine the population size of wattled cranes in KZN,
- determine the breeding status of known wattled crane pairs,
- identify trends in the grey crowned and blue crane populations, and
- locate wattled crane nests with two egg clutches
“The aerial surveys allow us to locate nests with two egg clutches, therefore facilitating the collection of the second laid eggs, which are always abandoned by the adults once the first egg has hatched,” said Tanya Smith of the EWT. “These eggs are then removed and incubated until they hatch, after which the chicks are hand-reared and integrated into a captive breeding flock.”
Posted on: November 21, 2012, 11:31 AM