The Blue Crane, Anthropoides paradiseus, is estimated to historically have numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The impact on the Blue Crane reached its nadir during the 1990’s with an estimate of 20 765 birds recorded in 1993 which dropped even further to 15 855 birds in 1998.

By 2003 the trend had reversed and population estimates grew to 25 120 birds.  Approximately 14 000 Blue Cranes occur within the border of the Western Cape, which makes the province a stronghold of the species and vital in ensuring that the population will keep going from strength to strength.

 

blue crane bird

 

The threats to Blue Cranes

The Blue Crane is a gregarious species and flocks can number hundreds of birds at a time.  This may present unforeseen problems for the cranes as one of the threats they face has been from poisoning.  Up to 400 and 600 birds have been killed in single poisoning instances which presents huge issues for the species in the Grassland habitats, where their numbers have been decreasing over time.

The Blue Crane has adapted well to the transformed landscape of the Overberg Wheatbelt and may be found in agricultural lands throughout the year.  Paradoxically, the conversion of renosterveld habitat to agriculture has impacted on many species but has assisted the Blue Crane.  The population has been on the rise here since the 1800’s but has risen dramatically since the 1960’s with the increase of pastures.

 

The OCG’s wonderful partners

The farmers within the Overberg have responded fantastically to the conservation of South Africa’s national bird and it is a source of pride to many residents within the region.  Unfortunately, residual impacts, especially collision with powerlines, still have an impact on Blue Cranes in the area.  It is important for us to take note of any powerline collisions so that we can proactively institute measures within ‘hotspot’ collision areas.

The Overberg Crane Group has been committed to raising awareness regarding the Blue Crane for many years and we continue to do so by maintaining a database of Blue Crane populations and their numbers, logging and reporting of powerline collisions, assisting our partners with research on the movement of cranes regionally and assisting, where possible, with any injured birds that are reported to us.

 

Get involved in crane conservation

Should you wish to assist the Overberg Crane Group with our conservation initiatives please contact Mick D’Alton at donate@bluecrane.org.za.