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The Cranes

Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan

Threats: Other Anthropogenic Threats


In addition to pressures stemming from habitat loss and degradation, direct exploitation, poisoning, and other forms of persecution, cranes are subject to several other broad anthropogenic threats, including:

Human interference or disturbance

Interference or disturbance by people can be an indirect cause of reproductive failure and mortality in cranes. Such interference can occur in any phase of the cranes’ life cycles, but is most critical during the breeding season, when adults are establishing territories and nesting birds and young are most vulnerable (Winter 1991, Ma and Su 1991, Bylin 1987). Encroachment upon or disturbance of crane nests renders eggs and young birds more vulnerable to predation.

Warfare and political instability

Warfare and political upheaval have had negative impacts on many crane species. Because cranes are present in or migrate through many political “hotspots”—including the frontiers of hostile nations—they have often been influenced by human conflicts. Cranes (and other species) can be affected in various ways: through direct mortality, disturbance, and habitat loss and degradation; through the taking of birds to meet subsistence needs (which is also a major problem under famine conditions); and through the inability to enforce laws, manage protected areas, and conduct research (Barzen 1991, Archibald 1992c, Beilfuss 1995).

Lack of effective legislation and administration

Lack of effective legislation and conservation administration is a general threat, especially in developing countries where the legal and political framework to support conservation is often weak. In some countries, laws are either lacking or inadequate to protect cranes and their habitats. Ineffective management of protected areas is a threat in many regions. Finally, the lack of cooperation among different agencies at the local, national, and international levels can be an obstacle to effective coordination and implementation of crane conservation plans.

Lack of knowledge and public support

In general, cranes are well studied relative to other taxonomic groups. Nevertheless, important gaps in scientific knowledge about their populations, populations dynamics, life histories, migratory patterns, habitats, and ecological relationships remain. This is especially true for the lesser known and more remote species and populations (mainly the Siberian, Hooded, White-naped, and Black-necked Cranes). Such gaps in scientific knowledge hinder accurate assessments of their conservation status and needs. At least as important as the gaps in technical knowledge, however, is the lack of knowledge and support among elected officials, agency personnel, and other leaders in different sectors of society, as well as among educators and the local public (Archibald et al. 1981).
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