It is encouraging to note that there are numerous crane and wetland conservation projects being implemented in various African countries. In this 11th edition of the African Cranes, Wetlands and Communities Newsletter, we have a mix of stories from the field covering three geographical regions – East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa. The articles reflect the diverse issues that have to be addressed to ensure the long-term survival of African cranes. They also highlight the multiple project goals, implementation methodologies, levels of stakeholder engagement and organizational priorities – evidence of remarkable innovativeness among conservationists.
Ann and Mike Scott present results of recent crane surveys and explain trends in the Blue Crane population noted over the past 20 years in Namibia. They also give an overview of their research and monitoring work aimed at getting a better understanding of the cranes’ movement patterns in Namibia and the neighbouring countries. Language barriers should not hinder knowledge and experience sharing among conservationists. In this regard, an article by Charlotte Houpline focusing on how law enforcement is being mainstreamed into wildlife conservation programmes in Guinea, is presented in French for the benefit of our readers from Francophone Africa. Cobus describes the emotional aspects of conservation based on his personal experiences in Wattled Crane monitoring in the Southern Drakensberg, South Africa. He reminds us of the fact that humans continue to “creep” into the cranes’ environment by fragmenting their habitats. Genevieve stresses the importance of cross-national collaboration in conservation and the need for standard data collection protocols in the quest to track crane population trends. Individuals and organisations interested in participating in a new and exciting crane data collection programme she is coordinating can contact her directly.
Samson reports on his trip to China where he attended the Grey Crowned Crane Festival. Apart from highlighting his personal experiences, his article stresses the importance of reaching out to a wide of stakeholders – even if it means flying across seas and oceans. BirdLife Zimbabwe staff members have every reason to celebrate as one of the key sites for both Grey Crowned and Wattled Cranes was declared a Ramsar Site earlier this year. Togarasei tells the story of how policy and advocacy work by BirdLife Zimbabwe contributed to this declaration and how their approach is slowly yielding positive results which will have far-reaching implications on crane and wetland conservation in Zimbabwe. In response to escalating threats to the Black Crowned Crane, Wetlands International (Africa Office) and BirdLife International launched a new project to mitigate key threats to the species in West Africa. Tim Dodman gives a brief overview of the goals, activities and expected outcomes of the initiative. The Kipsaina Crane and Wetland Conservation Group continues to make great strides in reaching out to communities in the western region of Kenya. The founder of the group, Maurice Wanjala demonstrates that conservationists should persevere and be patient as the road to conservation success is riddled with challenges. My article is aimed at reminding conservationists of the crane populations at sites located outside our project focal areas. Before we rush to point out the multiple reasons why we are not covering all crane areas, I believe individuals and organisations should start developing strategies to ensure that we do not lose these populations.