Increase in threatened bird’s numbers

2014-02-04 00:00

THINGS are looking up for the threatened Wattled Crane — their population has stabilised and even shown an increase in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to figures released by the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s African Crane Conservation Programme (EWT-ACCP) and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the 2013 KwaZulu-Natal aerial survey of cranes yielded the highest count of Wattled Crane’s since surveys began 20 years ago.

Two hundred and sixty one Wattled Cranes, including chicks, were counted during the survey, while 55 breeding pairs monitored on the ground through the 2013 season have fledged a minimum of 21 chicks.

“South Africa’s Wattled Crane population is finally stable and showing a slight increase in KwaZulu-Natal, where approximately 90% of the country’s population is found,” said Tanya Smith, senior field officer of the EWT-ACCP.

“We fitted leg colour rings to a total of 16 chicks this season. This is the highest number of Wattled Crane chicks ever ringed in one season since the start of colour ringing of Wattled Cranes in 1987.

“Colour ringing of chicks, under permit, allows us to answer critical questions including movement, survival, age of first breeding, sex ratios and proportions of adults that breed.

“This enables KZN Wildlife and us to monitor how well the population is doing and to implement conservation action appropriately,” said Smith.

Each year, the province’s crane aerial survey totals about 25 hours of flying and covers roughly 20 000 km squared over five days.

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