Cranes indicate wetland health status

The Crane Working Group�s Hayley Komen tells Roelof Bezuidenhout how to conserve our cranes and wetlands.
Issue date: 15 February 2008

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The Crane Working Group’s Hayley Komen tells Roelof Bezuidenhout how to conserve our cranes and wetlands.

Because of their dependence on our wetlands, cranes are their ideal representatives and ambassadors, and their demise spells disaster for the future of our freshwater systems, says Komen, conservation programme developer at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). “Already more than half of South Africa’s wetlands have been lost or degraded as a result of drainage, cropping, pastures and plantations, overgrazing, damming and their use as waste disposal sites,” she says. “The wattled crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) and grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum) are now listed as critically endangered and vulnerable respectively.”

According to Hayley, the EWT’s South African Crane Working Group (SACWG) works towards the effective conservation and management of crane habitat in Africa and has field officers located in key crane areas across the country. “Within local and farming communities, SACWG creates awareness of the importance and value of wetlands, crane populations as indicators of wetland health and the main threats facing both wetlands and cranes,” she explains. “also supports the development of sustainable wetland management, the reduction of negative impacts by human activities and the rehabilitation of degraded sites.

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Through SACWG’s relationship with the government Working for Wetlands project, several key crane sites and wetlands have been rehabilitated and are once again home to breeding cranes.” World Wetlands Day was celebrated globally on 2 February.

E-mail Hayley Komen at [email protected].