Spring has finally descended in the southernmost part of Africa and in the crane family we welcome it coupling, romance and activity. This year is no different, with the Overberg bursting with exciting activities. The Kids in Parks Programme has launched in Boscheuwel: over eight schools and at least 300 kids will make their way to the Agulhas National Park for their annual dose of environmental fun and education, of which crane awareness forms a part.
The popular Agri Mega expo proved to be a good platform for blue crane exposure and awareness. Through this expo, the Overberg Crane Group (OCG) has been able to converse with a number of famers and discuss pertinent crane matters. Most of the famers I spoke to boasted about the number of breeding pairs they have on their properties. This is very exciting and we are looking forward to a very successful breeding season in the Overberg. By getting the landowners excited about the cranes, it will hopefully help us to have more eyes on the ground when it comes to crane conservation.
The Department of Agriculture’s LandCare Camps have resumed and are going to be running during weekends and school holidays. This is another opportunity to reach the youth. In the Western Cape cranes and agriculture are inseparable; hence the close association with the Department.
On the downside, poisoning in the Overberg seems to be creeping up. It’s believed that the poison is meant for guinea fowl and geese, and that blue crane are accidental victims. This is very alarming for the Western Cape and has prompted the OCG and Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to take pro-active steps. We are in the process of launching an information campaign, to detail the long-term ramifications of ingesting poisoned meat. This is geared mainly towards farm workers and dwellers. Effectively done, this will hopefully curb the poisoning incidents and keep our national birds in the sky.
By Nandi Thobela