Five-cent bird honoured as SA’s Bird of the Year

2015-01-27 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s national bird the Blue Crane which appears on the five-cent coin, has received the honour as BirdLife South Africa’s Bird of the Year for 2015.

“Selecting this crane will help everyone realise the need to conserve the country’s wetlands and grasslands,” BirdLife South Africa’s chief executive officer Mark Anderson said. “As the five-cent bird, the Blue Crane is generally well known to South Africans,” said Anderson. “This, and its attractive and charismatic lifestyle, account for its popularity. It is a good choice for Bird of the Year 2015,” he added.

Poisoning, habitat alteration, and power line collisions are all significant threats to Blue Cranes.

This decade has seen the Tristan Albatross, White-winged Flufftail, Barn Swallow, African Fish Eagle and Lesser Flamingo all getting the honour.

Bird of the Year is BirdLife South Africa’s annual initiative for awareness about birds and bird habitat conservation.

“Each year choosing the bird is highly contested, with nominations and furious voting and support for various species, but this year the Blue Crane won,” said Nikki McCartney, events manager of BirdLife South Africa.

Educating people is a key component of BirdLife South Africa’s conservation work. The bird conservation NGO is developing learning materials using the Blue Crane as a flagship species. This will be an incentive to conserve wetlands and grasslands.

The Blue Crane, other crane species and many other less charismatic, but equally important species, depend on these habitats.

The Blue Crane, also known as the Stanley crane and the paradise crane, is endemic to southern Africa, with more than 99% of the population occurring within South Africa. A small breeding population occurs in northern Namibia, in and around Etosha Pan.

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