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The Cranes

Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan

Crane Conservation Measures


JPG-Education project in Vietnam

Even as the world’s cranes have declined in response to multiple threats, their cultural value, high visibility, extraordinary beauty, dramatic migrations, and striking behavior have inspired widespread conservation efforts. The special characteristics of cranes have provided conservationists with unique opportunities for action. Because cranes require large territories and are among the most prominent inhabitants of wetlands, they have served as important symbols for wetland protection, and conservation activities undertaken on their behalf have benefitted a wide range of other plant and animal species (Schoff 1991). Because most cranes have extensive year-round species ranges, they have stimulated many innovative conservation measures at the international level. These same qualities also make cranes effective vehicles for conveying lessons through conservation education and environmental awareness programs (e.g., Dietzman and Swengel 1994, Landfried et al. 1995). Captive propagation and reintroduction programs have been undertaken for several species, providing important experience in combining in situ and ex situ conservation methods for other endangered species (see Captive Propagation and Reintroduction).

Conservation measures undertaken for each species are described in detail in the species accounts in Section 2. These measures include: legal and cultural protections; international agreements and other cooperative international programs; establishment of protected areas; habitat protection and management activities; surveys and censuses; research; activities of non-governmental organizations; education and training programs; and captive propagation and reintroduction. Local and species-specific actions in these areas are often organized and supported through broader cooperative efforts of crane researchers and conservationists. The following groups and activities have been especially important in coordinating crane conservation work at the regional and international levels.

IUCN/SSC Crane Specialist Group

In 1970 the International Council for Bird Protection (now BirdLife International) asked George Archibald (who was then conducting his doctoral studies on crane biology at Cornell University in the United States) to organize a World Working Group on Cranes. Approximately 40 crane researchers joined the working group and provided information that was subsequently published in reports of the ICBP and of IUCN’s Survival Service Commission (now the Species Survival Commission). When Archibald and his colleague Dr. Ron Sauey co-founded the International Crane Foundation in 1973, they and their colleagues worldwide became the World Working Group on Cranes, a core group of which in turn became the IUCN/SSC Crane Specialist Group. The specialist group currently has 79 members from 28 nations (see Appendix 1). Reports of the group’s activities appear regularly in Species, the newsletter of the Species Survival Commission.

Crane Working Groups

Over the years, crane working groups have played a key role in supporting research, facilitating information exchange, and identifying and addressing crane conservation needs. Crane working groups have been organized at the regional, national, and local levels. At the regional level, working groups are active in North America and Europe. National-level working groups are best developed in Europe, where teams have formed in Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Ukraine. The Soviet Working Group on Cranes has been inactive since 1989 after meeting jointly with the European Crane Working Group in Estonia. China’s crane researchers formerly met on a regular basis, but economic constraints have impeded meetings in recent years. India’s working group meets irregularly. Local groups include the Friends of the Brolga in southeast Australia, and the Highlands and Overberg Crane Groups in South Africa. Several local working groups in South Africa have recently joined together under the umbrella of the Southern African Crane Foundation. A Black Crowned Crane Working Group has also been organized in Africa, but has met only intermittently.

Crane Workshops and Meetings

National, regional, international, and species-specific crane workshops and meetings have been held regularly over the last twenty years (Table 1.4). The gatherings have provided an important forum for the exchange of information on crane research and conservation activities, and have allowed scientists and conservationists from throughout the world to meet and learn from one another. Proceedings from most of the workshops have been published, making this information available to an even broader audience.

Table 1.4 Crane workshops and symposia
This table lists the major crane meetings that have been held since 1975. A number of other meetings have also been held, often in conjunction with larger ornithological congresses or conferences. This list contains only those meetings that have focused specifically on cranes. Citations for the published proceedings follow the meeting name (see Literature).
Year Meeting Location
1975 International Crane Workshop
(First North American Crane Workshop) (Lewis 1976)
Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA
1977 Eastern Greater Sandhill Crane Symposium (Feldt 1978) Michigan City, Indiana, USA
1978 Second North American Crane Workshop (Lewis 1979) Rockport, Texas, USA
1980 International Crane Symposium (Lewis and Masatomi 1981) Sapporo, Japan
First Meeting of the USSR Crane Working Group Moscow, USSR (Russia)
1981 1981 Crane Workshop
(Third North American Crane Workshop)(Lewis 1982)
Grand Teton National Park, USA
Second Meeting of the USSR Crane Working Group
(Neufeldt 1982)
Leningrad, USSR (St. Petersburg, Russia)
1982 Third Meeting of the USSR Crane Working Group Oka Nature Reserve, USSR (Russia)
1983 1983 International Crane Workshop
(Archibald and Pasquier 1987)
Bharatpur, India
1984 First Symposium on Crane Research in China (Ma 1986) Harbin, China
First Annual Meeting of the Crane Conservation Committee
of China
Nanjing, China
Fourth Meeting of the USSR Crane Working Group
(Neufeldt 1989, Neufeldt and Kespaik 1989)
Matsulu State Nature Reserve, USSR (Estonia)
1985 1985 Crane Workshop
(Fourth North American Crane Workshop)(Lewis 1987)
Grand Island, Nebraska, USA
First Meeting of the European Crane Working Group
(Bankovics 1987)
Oroshaza, Hungary
Second Annual Meeting of the Crane Conservation Committee    
of China
Qiqihar, China
1986 Third Annual Meeting of the Crane Conservation Committee
of China
Nanchang, China
Fifth Meeting of the USSR Crane Working Group
(Litvinenko and Neufeldt 1988)
Arkhara, USSR (Russia)
1987 International Crane Workshop
(Harris 1991; Heilongjiang Forestry Bureau 1987, 1990)
Qiqihar, China
1988 Fourth (1988) North American Crane Workshop
(Wood 1982)
Lake Wales, Florida, USA
Fourth Annual Meeting of the Crane Conservation Committee
of China
Panjin, China
Sixth Meeting of the USSR Crane Working Group
(Kovshar and Neufeldt 1991)
Karaganda, Kazakhstan
1989 First Southern African Crane Conference (Porter et al. 1992) Natal, Republic of South Africa
Palearctic Crane Workshop (Prange 1995) Talinn, USSR (Estonia)
Asian Crane Congress Rajkot, Gujurat, India
1990 International Sarus Crane and Wetland Workshop
(Duc 1990)
Tam Nong, Vietnam
1991 Sixth North American Crane Workshop (Stahlecker 1992) Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
1992 International Crane Symposium (Whitaker 1992) Kearney, Nebraska, USA
International Conference on the Black Crowned Crane and
its Habitats in West and Central Africa (Beilfuss et al. in press)
Kano, Nigeria
International Workshop on Cranes and Storks of the Amur
River Basin (Halvorson et al. 1995)
Amur River basin, China/Russia
Fifth Annual Meeting of the Crane Conservation Committee
of China
Guiyang, China
Crane Conservation Assessment and Management Plan
Workshop (Mirande et al. in press a)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
1993 Second Annual International Crane Symposium
(Whitaker and Schimmel 1994)
Kearney, Nebraska, USA
International Symposium on the Future of Cranes and Wetlands
(Higuchi and Minton 1994)
Tokyo/Sapporo, Japan
African Crane and Wetland Training Workshop
(Beilfuss et al. in press)
Maun, Botswana
1994 Third Annual International Crane Symposium (Schimmel 1995) Kearney, Nebraska, USA
The Conservation of the Common Crane in Europe (Prange 1995) Orellana la Vieja, Spain
1996 Seventh North American Crane Workshop Biloxi, Mississippi, USA
Meeting of the European Crane Working Group Rügen-Bock, Germany
Salim Ali International Crane Workshop Bombay, India
East African Crane and Wetland Training Workshop (planned) Kipsaina, Kenya

International Crane Foundation (ICF)

Since 1973, ICF (located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, U.S.A.) has served to stimulate, coordinate, and support crane conservation activities around the world. ICF’s international programs in field ecology, aviculture, research, education, and training have helped to strengthen the global network of crane conservationists (Schoff 1991, Katz 1993). ICF’s publications, including workshop proceedings as well as a quarterly newsletter The ICF Bugle, provide important communication links for that network.

Due to these ongoing cooperative efforts, the cranes as a taxonomic group are in a somewhat better position than most other forms of threatened biodiversity. The priority measures and recommended actions described in Section 3 are intended to build upon these previous efforts and to take advantage of the existing “infrastructure” of institutions, organization, and people involved in crane conservation. In so doing, it is hoped than many other components and functions of the ecosystems in which cranes occur will also benefit, as will the people who share these ecosystems.

JPG-Siberian Crane experts in Moscow

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