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Cranes: Flagships for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods in Africa, by Richard Beilfuss, International Crane Foundation

April 2, 2019

Cranes are among the most revered birds in the world, and the most endangered. The Grey Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda, appearing on the national flag and coat of arms. Nigeria and South Africa also honor cranes as their national bird, and the cranes feature prominently in the traditional folklore of the Zulu, Xhosa, Khoikhoi, and many other peoples. Yet cranes are among the most endangered families of birds in Africa, with all four resident species on the IUCN Red List, and in the coming years climate change, water security, population growth, invasive species, and other challenges will further imperil cranes and the diverse places where they live.

The International Crane Foundation-USA and Endangered Wildlife Trust-South Africa work in partnership across Africa, with regional programs based in Uganda, Zambia, and South Africa and projects in 12 countries. Through the charisma of cranes we bring people together to protect and restore the wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural landscapes on which they depend on, seeking innovative pathways to sustain our land, water, and livelihoods. In East Africa, we focus on community land conservation to secure wetlands and enhance climate resiliency on agricultural landscapes through population-health-environment-sustainable livelihoods (PHESL) programs. In Southern Africa, we engage with large protected areas as models for “working wetlands” that support biodiversity, water security, and other ecosystem services.

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