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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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The Cranes

Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan

Recommended Actions at the Regional Level


1. West Africa 2. East Africa 3. Southern Africa
4. Western Palearctic 5. Central Asia 6. East Asia
7. Southeast Asia 8. Australia/New Guinea 9. North America

1. West Africa

Countries Included

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bisseau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Zaire (northwest).

Species Present This region includes the mixed savannahs and wetlands of the Sahel and sub-Sahel, stretching along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert from Senegal to Chad (Sudan and Ethiopia are included in Region 2). Three species occur in the region. The West African subspecies of the Black Crowned Crane is endemic to the region, and has been declining in many areas since the 1970s. Lake Chad is a major wintering areas for western populations of the Eurasian and Demoiselle Cranes.

Recommended Actions
International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Transfer the Black Crowned Crane from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.
  2. Establish a West African Crowned Crane Recovery Team to coordinate all recovery efforts within the subspecies’ range.
  3. Expand participation in international projects involving banding, monitoring, research, and protection of the migratory populations of Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes wintering at Lake Chad and elsewhere in the region.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Adopt stronger wetland protection policies and legislation at the province and national level throughout the range of the West African Crowned Crane.
  2. Strengthen enforcement of existing laws prohibiting hunting and live-trapping of cranes, and protecting cranes within designated protected areas.
  3. Review and, where needed, strengthen existing laws and penalties to enhance the conservation status of the West African Crowned Crane at the national level. Especially important are laws to bring trade under control.
  4. Strengthen requirements for environmental impact assessments in the planning of development projects affecting wetlands and crane habitat in general.

Protected Areas

  1. Strengthen administration of existing protected areas that are important for West African Crowned Cranes.
  2. Identify and designate new protected areas (especially key breeding areas) to ensure the survival of the Black Crowned Crane in West Africa. In areas where the species has been extirpated, identify remaining habitat that may again support cranes. Key areas for consideration should include:
  3. Provide financial and political support for cooperative international efforts to strengthen existing protected areas in the Lake Chad basin (especially Camaroon’s Waza National Park) and to integrate habitat protection and sustainable resource management in the region.

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Develop community-based wetland conservation and management projects in areas where Black Crowned Cranes are found. Such projects can often involve local NGOs and should entail crane monitoring, research, education, and habitat restoration programs.
  2. Prepare national-level wetland inventories as a first step toward developing conservation plans. Some countries have already taken steps to do so, and support should be given to further implementation projects.
  3. Develop and implement integrated land use and conservation programs for critical wetland complexes within the region, including the Lake Chad basin, the Inner Niger Delta, the Senegambia basin, and the Hadejia-Unguru wetlands. In some cases, such plans have already been outlined.
  4. Develop and implement plans for the restoration of degraded wetlands and adjacent uplands.

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. Develop a coordinated surveying and monitoring program to verify the current status, distribution, size, and trends of the West African Crowned Crane population.
  2. Provide technical and financial support for the West African Subregion Management Plan Project and the Black Crowned Crane Coordinating Centre in Kano, Nigeria to coordinate and disseminate survey results.
  3. Develop a coordinated program to monitor all crane populations at Lake Chad. This program should involve all four nations bordering Lake Chad (Camaroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria) and should build upon existing monitoring programs.
  4. Working with colleagues in Region 2, develop an updated species range map for the Black Crowned Crane.

Research

  1. Conduct field studies of various aspects of Black Crowned Crane biology in the region, especially population density, limiting factors, demographics, nesting success, productivity, habitat characteristics, feeding habits, local and seasonal movements, and behavior.
  2. Conduct basic ecological studies of the region’s wetlands.
  3. Support research on the development of sustainable land use practices appropriate for the wetland-upland complexes of the Sahel Savanna. This should include research on restoration of degraded wetlands.
  4. Undertake studies of the status and environmental characteristics of specific protected areas and other critical habitats.
  5. Determine more precisely, through banding and satellite radio tracking studies, the migration routes and resting areas used by the wintering populations of Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes at Lake Chad.

Education and Training

  1. Develop community-based conservation education and awareness programs involving West African Crowned Cranes and their wetland/savannah habitats.
  2. Develop targeted education programs aimed at crane trappers and dealers, policy makers, resource managers, students, and other groups. These programs should provide information on the status of West Africa’s cranes and wetlands, and on sustainable land use practices.
  3. Provide opportunities for professional training in crane censusing and monitoring techniques, ecological research, wetland management and restoration, and conservation education.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Assess the need for a release program to reestablish the Black Crowned Crane in areas where it has been extirpated. This assessment should, however, stress the need to ensure protection and sound management of habitat before any releases are undertaken.
  2. Expand training opportunities in crane husbandry, propagation, and reintroduction techniques.


2. East Africa

Countries Included

Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire (eastern)

Species Present

Five crane species occur in this region. The majority of both Grey and Black Crowned Cranes are found here. The northern population of resident Wattled Cranes occurs in the Rift valley and highlands of western Ethiopia. Eurasian Cranes from the East European, European Russia, and Turkey populations, and Demoiselle Cranes from the Black Sea, Turkey, and Kalmykia populations overwinter in Sudan, Ethiopia, and other portions of the region.

Recommended Actions
International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Transfer the Black Crowned, Grey Crowned, and Wattled Cranes from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.
  2. Establish international research and conservation programs involving the Demoiselle and Eurasian Crane populations that winter in the region. Such programs should build links among scientists and conservationists in Sudan and Ethiopia, in countries along the migration routes, and in the breeding range countries of these populations.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Place strict controls on the export of Black and Grey Crowned Cranes.
  2. Strengthen national laws to protect cranes, especially through increased penalties for trapping, hunting, capture, and illegal possession.
  3. Adopt stronger laws to protect wetlands against over-exploitation, to prevent indiscriminate use of pesticides, to require environmental impact assessments in the planning of development projects, and to discourage encroachment upon and conversion of key crane habitats.

Conservation of the Wattled Crane in Ethiopia

  1. Review the provisions and enforcement of existing legislation protecting Wattled Cranes and their habitats and formulate detailed recommendations.
  2. Strengthen administration and community-based conservation activities in protected areas used by Wattled Cranes.
  3. Conduct surveys to identify areas of critical Wattled Crane habitat for designation as protected areas and for development of community-based conservation programs.
  4. Organize and conduct a census of the Ethiopian population as part of the larger effort to conduct a range-wide census for the Wattled Crane.
  5. Establish a long-term population monitoring program for known habitats in the highlands and Rift valley.
  6. Initiate a research program to gather basic information on the biology, ecology, and conservation needs of the population. Studies should focus on the distribution, population status, habitat requirements and availability, wetland ecology, the life history of breeding and non-breeding cranes.
  7. Initiate a banding program to collect information on habitat requirements, population dynamics, seasonal movements, and movements of non-breeding adults and juveniles.
  8. Conduct genetic studies to determine whether the Ethiopian population is distinct from the rest of the species.
  9. Stimulate local interest in the population through crane counts and other educational programs involving cranes and their habitats.

Protected Areas

  1. Strengthen administration and enforcement in existing protected areas that are important for Black and Grey Crowned Cranes (see species accounts for specific areas).
  2. Identify key breeding areas and areas where large concentrations of Black and Grey Crowned Cranes are known to occur. Identify core and buffer areas for potential designation as protected areas.
  3. Develop special buffer zone programs for landowners and villages near protected areas to strengthen management programs and to harmonize conservation and development goals.

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Prepare national-level inventories of wetlands as a first step in developing national-level crane and wetland conservation plans in the region. Some countries have already taken steps to do so, and support should be given to further implementation projects.
  2. Develop coordinated land use and conservation programs for critical wetlands within the region, especially the Sudd wetlands and other breeding areas outside of designated protected areas.
  3. Identify important wintering habitats of the Eurasian and Demoiselle Crane and assess the need for protective measures.
  4. Require environmental impact assessments for all large-scale development schemes affecting crane habitat, especially the Sudd wetlands.

Community Conservation Programs

  1. Work with community-based NGOs to develop crane monitoring, research, education, and habitat restoration programs.
  2. Develop and implement community-based conservation programs that combine wetland protection, restoration, and management activities with local economic development opportunities.
  3. Support existing community-based crane and wetland conservation programs, in particular the Kipsaina Wetland Conservation Organization and the Kaisagat Environmental Conservation Youth Group in Kenya. These programs may serve as models adaptable to other parts of the region.

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. Develop a coordinated surveying and monitoring program to verify the current status, distribution, size, and trends of the Sudan Crowned Crane and East African Crowned Crane populations.
  2. Conduct local crane counts in the region. Non-governmental organizations can and should play a key role in organizing and coordinating these counts.
  3. Provide support for the Black Crowned Crane Coordinating Centre in Kano, Nigeria to coordinate and disseminate survey results (including data on the Black-Crowned Crane and East Africa).
  4. Use survey data to develop updated species range maps for the Black and Grey Crowned Cranes.
  5. Initiate regular surveys of the Eurasian and Demoiselle Crane at known wintering areas in Sudan and Ethiopia.

Research

  1. For the region’s Black and Grey Crowned Cranes:
  2. For the region’s wintering populations of Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes:
  3. Develop sustainable land use practices appropriate for the wetland-upland complexes of the Sudan Savanna region and for the wetlands in the region as a whole.
  4. Assess the impact of Grey Crowned Cranes on agricultural crops and determine the factors that influence the timing and location of crop damage.

Education and Training

  1. As a component of community-based conservation programs, develop crane counts and other education and awareness programs involving Black and Grey Crowned Cranes and wetlands.
  2. Provide professional training opportunities for crane researchers, wetland conservationists, and protected area managers in crane censusing and monitoring techniques, ecological research, wetland management and restoration, and conservation education.
  3. Integrate public education efforts into all local crane research and conservation projects.
  4. Develop special programs aimed at groups critical to the conservation of Black and Grey Crowned Cranes, especially teachers, rural landowners, and those who are involved in the capturing of cranes for trade.
  5. Develop international programs involving students from the breeding range, migration routes, and winter ranges of the Demoiselle and Eurasian Crane populations that winter in the region.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Restrict, if necessary, the reproduction rate among captive Grey Crowned Cranes to allow more space for Black Crowned Cranes.
  2. Develop a Global Animal Survival Plan and full PHVA for the Wattled Crane. In situ and ex situ conservation needs of the Ethiopian population should be determined as part of this process.


3. Southern Africa

Countries Included

Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Species Present

The Blue Crane is endemic to the region. The majority of Africa’s Wattled Cranes and the South African subspecies of the Grey Crowned Crane also occur here.

Recommended Actions
International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Transfer the Grey Crowned, Blue, and Wattled Crane from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.
  2. Expand regional cooperation in projects to understand crane movements.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Strengthen existing laws prohibiting the capture, keeping in captivity, shooting, intentional poisoning, hunting, injuring, or disturbing of cranes without a permit from the relevant national conservation agency.
  2. Enact strict controls on the export of Grey Crowned Cranes from the region.
  3. Enforce existing legislation regulating resource use and settlement within protected areas.
  4. Introduce specific legislation to encourage conservation of Wattled Crane breeding habitat outside of protected areas.
  5. Develop and enforce requirements for environmental impact assessments in the process of issuing permits for significant changes in land-use (especially afforestation permits).

Protected Areas

  1. Provide greater protection for the key crane habitats by expanding existing protecting areas, upgrading their protective status, establishing buffer zones, and/or strengthening management capacities. High priority areas are: the Okavango River and Delta; the Makgadikgadi Pans; Etosha Pan; the Bangweulu Swamps and Kafue Flats (Zambia); the Zambezi delta/Marromeu Complex (Mozambique); the Blood River Vlei and grasslands in and near Wakkerstrom and Dullstroom (South Africa).
  2. Restore degraded ecosystems within protected areas to improve conditions for cranes and other wildlife. Required measures include: restoration of native plant species and communities (in part through the removal of plantation trees and other alien plant species); timing of burning schedules to avoid destruction of eggs or pre-fledged chicks; and controlled livestock grazing.
  3. Conduct surveys to identify additional areas of critical crane habitat for designation as protected areas.
  4. Expand cooperative programs involving local landowners and communities to strengthen management of protected areas and buffer zones and to better integrate conservation and development goals.

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Develop for the Grey Crowned and Wattled Cranes community-based habitat protection and management programs that stress the importance of maintaining breeding habitats outside protected areas and of restoring and managing wetlands.
  2. Develop and implement comprehensive programs to promote conservation of cranes and crane habitats among farmers and other private landowners in the region. These programs should include: participation of landowners in surveys and inventories of wetlands used by cranes; incentives for setting aside suitable nesting habitat; monitoring and assessment of planned or possible land use changes that threaten breeding sites; identification and adoption of agricultural practices that improve habitat conditions; dissemination of information on habitat protection and management practices; and reimbursement programs for landowners in areas where crop damage occurs.
  3. Address habitat losses associated with afforestation of South Africa’s grasslands. Measures should include: development of grassland restoration programs; requirements for impact assessments on all lands that are to be devoted to timber plantations; requirements for greater communication and coordination of activities among local and national conservation agencies and other organizations involved in forestry programs.
  4. Include crane conservation measures in the development and implementation of national-level crane and wetland conservation policies and plans in the region.
  5. Assess and ameliorate to the extent possible large-scale development pressures on the Kafue Flats, the Okavango Delta, the Makgadikgadi Pans, and the Zambezi River delta.
  6. Carry out the projects outlined in the Conservation Programme for the Blue Crane in the Overberg (A. Scott 1993), and use the Overberg program to demonstrate conservation concepts with region-wide relevance.
  7. Mark utility lines in areas where collisions are a significant problem for cranes and other birds (especially in the Overberg region and the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

Responding to the Poisoning of Cranes

  1. Develop and implement a comprehensive program of response to the threat of poisoning. This program should include the following components: stronger legislation to restrict the use of poisons; educational campaigns on the use of pesticides, and alternative means of controlling pest damage; expanded cooperation with private landowners on crane protection measures; establishment of a reporting system through which the incidence of crop damage can be assessed and monitored; establishment, where necessary, of compensation programs for farmers suffering crop damage. Existing programs in South Africa should be maintained and expanded.
  2. Conduct research on the extent, nature, and timing of crop damage caused by cranes; alternative farming practices and damage control methods; the extent and location of poisoning incidents; types of poisons employed; methods of use; persistence of poisons; effects on species other than cranes; and economic aspects of crop damage and poisoning.
  3. Address the issue of crop damage caused by associated problem species in order to prevent indirect persecution or poisoning of cranes.

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. Develop regular crane counts at the national level in all countries of the region.
  2. For Blue Cranes:
  3. Organize (together with researchers in Ethiopia) a range-wide Wattled Crane census.
  4. Continue regular monitoring of the populations of all cranes at Etosha Pan in Namibia.
  5. Establish long-term crane monitoring programs at several major wetland complexes and at established flocking and nesting sites in the region.
  6. Develop a standard method for conducting aerial surveys of Wattled Cranes.
  7. Working with colleagues in Region 2, use new survey data to develop updated range maps for the Grey Crowned and Wattled Cranes.

Research

  1. Expand studies of habitat (especially breeding habitat) characteristics and requirements of the region’s three species.
  2. Expand color banding, radiotelemetry, and satellite tracking studies of all three species to improve understanding of seasonal movements, population dynamics, demographics, territory size, habitat requirements, and life history.
  3. Study the impact of dams and other water development projects on the hydrological dynamics of floodplains, and the potential for ameliorating negative impacts on Wattled Crane habitat through revised water management policies.
  4. Assess the actual and potential incidence of crop damage by cranes and determine the factors that influence the timing, extent, and location of crop damage.
  5. Conduct studies of the extent and impact of commercial afforestation on grassland ecosystems in South Africa.
  6. Describe and study the populations of Wattled Cranes in Angola, Mozambique, and Tanzania.
  7. Undertake basic studies of the Grey Crowned Crane (e.g., distribution, population, ecology, recruitment rates), its interactions with people, and conservation threats in the region.
  8. Assess the extent and impact of the capture, sale, and export of Grey Crowned Cranes.

Education and Training

  1. Stimulate local interest in crane conservation through crane counts, special educational programs involving cranes and their habitats, involvement of local citizens in crane research and conservation projects, and development of workshops to assist local community leaders in the use and dissemination of educational materials.
  2. Enhance awareness of the legal protection of cranes through educational efforts throughout the region.
  3. Provide support for dissemination of the recently published booklet Cranes and Farmers (Allan 1994).
  4. Support development of the Crane Education Forum’s education programs in South Africa.
  5. Develop education programs specifically aimed at farmers and other private landowners, farm workers, teachers, students, and those who are involved in the capturing of cranes for trade.
  6. Address the poisoning problem specifically through a broad-based information campaign in the mass media.
  7. Promote the Blue Crane as the national bird and as an indicator species for the endangered grassland ecosystem in southern Africa and encourage existing environmental education programs to include Blue Crane and grassland conservation as a component of their curricula.
  8. Provide expanded training opportunities for crane researchers, wetland conservationists, and managers of protected areas in the region, especially through expanded international training programs.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Strengthen and coordinate on a regional basis the captive management program of Blue Cranes in the region.
  2. Improve coordination among captive flock managers, field researchers, and habitat managers in the development and implementation of comprehensive conservation strategies for the Blue and Wattled Cranes.


4. Western Palearctic

Countries Included

Albania, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Belorus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia (western), Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Syria, Tadzhikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Western Sahara, Yemen, Yugoslavia.

Species Present

Two species occur in this region. More than 120,000 Eurasian Cranes breed in the region’s northern latitudes and winter in the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, the Middle East, Chad and Sudan (Chad and Sudan are included in Regions 5 and 6 respectively). More than 30,000 Demoiselle Cranes breed between the Caspian and Black Seas and migrate over the Middle East to wintering grounds in Sudan. In addition, the region include the highly endangered resident population of Demoiselle Cranes in the Atlas Plateau of northwest Africa and isolated breeding populations of Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes in Turkey. The Siberian Crane occurred historically in northern and eastern portions of the region, and if the breeding grounds of the Western population are found to be in European Russia, they may again be included within the region.

Recommended Actions
International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Expand cooperative conservation efforts for the Eurasian Crane among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and European Russia where the species breeds and migrates (especially Belorus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine) and the countries of northern Africa where they winter (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt).
  2. Provide financial, political, and institutional support international banding, monitoring, research, and habitat management programs for the Eurasian Crane throughout the region.
  3. Develop crane and wetland conservation incentives under the European Common Agricultural Policy.
  4. Develop a central database for information on all banded and observed cranes in Europe.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Enact stronger laws and strengthen enforcement of existing laws restricting the hunting of cranes, especially in Egypt, Romania, and the Balkan Peninsula.
  2. Strengthen legal protection for wetlands and other habitats in the Eurasian Crane’s breeding grounds, along its migratory routes, and in its wintering grounds. Countries where this is a critical need include Iraq, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Turkey.
  3. Strengthen requirements for environmental impact assessments in the planning of development projects (utility lines, roads, railways, wind power facilities, etc.) affecting crane habitat, especially near migration stopover areas and in wintering grounds.

Protecting Rare and Isolated Populations

  1. Develop and implement a conservation program for the Atlas population of Demoiselle Cranes.
  2. Develop and implement a conservation program for the Black Sea population of Demoiselle Cranes.
  3. Develop and implement conservation programs for the breeding populations of Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes in Turkey. (See the Demoiselle and Eurasian Crane species accounts for more detailed outlines of the programs recommended above.)

Protected Areas

  1. Provide protection for key breeding, staging, resting, and wintering areas of the Eurasian Crane in the western portion of its range (high priority areas are listed in the Eurasian Crane species account).
  2. Strengthen enforcement and management of existing protected areas at Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft (Germany), Hortobagy National Park (Hungary), and Laguna de Gallocanta National Wildlife Reserve (Spain).

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Provide alternative resting areas along the principal migration routes, especially by protecting and restoring smaller wetlands.
  2. Protect and manage existing wetlands, and restore degraded wetlands, that have the potential to provide nesting/roosting habitat.
  3. Protect wetlands, riparian forests, and floodplains in Central and Eastern Europe from further modification (from dams, drainage, water diversions, etc.).
  4. Undertake a comprehensive assessment of the impact of agricultural development on the Black Sea population of the Demoiselle Crane.
  5. Develop and implement policies to protect and restore crane habitats on lands in central and eastern Europe now being returned to private individuals or local communities.
  6. Provide incentives for farmers and other landowners whose land management practices benefit cranes.
  7. Modify (through burial or marking) utility lines to reduce the incidence of collision.

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. Continue existing population and annual recruitment surveys, migration counts, and monitoring programs to gauge long-term trends in crane populations and habitats. As part of this effort, coordinated, simultaneous crane surveys should be organized in wintering areas.
  2. Develop a monitoring program to determine the size of, and trends in, the Kalmykia population of Demoiselle Cranes.
  3. Expand the monitoring of crane migration along the Middle East migration corridors. At present, only Saudi Arabia has initiated a continuing monitoring program.

Research

  1. Continue and expand efforts to define and/or clarify the migration routes of all crane populations in the region.
  2. Continue and expand research on the number, status, distribution, and breeding and wintering areas of the Demoiselle and Eurasian Crane populations in the region.
  3. Develop a coordinated, large-scale color banding and radiotracking project for the Eurasian Crane in Europe.
  4. Continue studies of the factors affecting Demoiselle Crane breeding success in agricultural areas, giving special attention to the impact of various crop production methods. This information should be used to develop extension programs and services to work with farmers in breeding areas.
  5. As a component of efforts to protect rare and isolated crane populations (see above), assess the status of the Eurasian and Demoiselle Crane populations and their habitats in Turkey.
  6. Develop more systematic methods of assembling population and habitat-related data in order to evaluate realistically the status of the Eurasian Crane in the region.
  7. Continue behavioral and demographic studies of the Eurasian Crane as the basis for comparative studies of the species in other portions of its range.

Addressing Crop Depredation Problems

  1. Conduct a comprehensive review of the incidence of crop damage by migrating cranes in the region.
  2. Conduct research to evaluate accurately the level of crop damage caused by cranes.
  3. Conduct research on crane feeding behavior and the effectiveness of strategies for reducing the incidence of damage.
  4. Strengthen farmer incentive and compensation programs involving cranes through adjustments in national and international agricultural policies.

Education and Training

  1. Provide training opportunities for personnel, especially volunteers, working in important wetland areas and in protected areas established for cranes.
  2. Initiate public education programs in areas of North Africa where cranes occur.
  3. Develop exchange programs involving students from the breeding and wintering areas of the various populations.
  4. Develop local education programs for students and the general public in areas where Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes breed. These programs should emphasize the ecology of native wetland and steppe communities.
  5. Develop public education programs along the various migration routes and on the wintering grounds of the Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes, with special emphasis on crane counts and the biology of migration.
  6. Develop and disseminate information on alternative agricultural production practices that minimize interference between cranes and people on the breeding grounds, along migration routes, and on the wintering grounds.
  7. Develop targeted hunter education programs in areas where illegal hunting is a problem.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Monitor the natural recovery of the Eurasian and Demoiselle Cranes in areas from which they have been extirpated, have reached critically low numbers, or occur only during migration; assess the likelihood of further natural restoration and determine the location and quality of potential reintroduction sites.
  2. Determine the need for, and possible means of, supplementing the Atlas population of Demoiselle Cranes.


5. Central Asia

Countries Included

Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, western China (including Tibet, Gansu, Guizhou, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Xijiang Provinces); portions of Yunnan Province), India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, western Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia (Siberia), Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Species Present

Five species of cranes are present in this region: the Central and Western populations of the Siberian Crane, which breed in Russia and winter in India and Iran; the entire population of the threatened Black-necked Crane; tens of thousands of Eurasian and Demoiselle Cranes, which migrate from their northern breeding grounds through Tibet, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, to wintering areas on the Indian subcontinent; and the entire population of non-migratory Indian Sarus Cranes (resident in the sub-continent).

Recommended Actions
International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Secure the participation of all nations within the range of the Siberian Crane in the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for the Siberian Crane, in establishment of a Siberian Crane Recovery Team, and in efforts to develop a Siberian Crane Recovery Plan.
  2. Transfer the Sarus Crane from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.
  3. Expand international cooperation on banding studies, monitoring (especially of migration routes), research, and management strategies for the Eurasian, Demoiselle, and Black-necked Cranes.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Strengthen enforcement of existing laws prohibiting or restricting the hunting of cranes in Afghanistan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan.
  2. Strengthen legal protections for wetlands at the national level.
  3. Adopt legislation to protect wetlands along key migration routes and at wintering grounds of the Siberian, Eurasian, and Demoiselle cranes.
  4. Protect wintering populations of the Black-necked Crane against poaching, in part through development of a reward system for reporting poaching incidents.

Protected Areas

  1. Strengthen management of existing protected areas used by cranes. Particular needs include: marking of boundaries; development and implementation of comprehensive management plans; assessment of the effectiveness of present boundaries and the impact of land use in the surrounding watershed; and development of effective warden forces. High priority areas include:
  2. Establish new protected areas. High priority areas for consideration include:
  3. Identify and secure protection for important Indian Sarus Crane breeding areas in India.
  4. Expand the existing Kurgaldzhinski and Naurzumski Nature Reserves (Kazakhstan).
  5. Secure international technical and financial support for development of the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary in Nepal.
  6. Develop a long-term international strategy to protect additional important crane habitats within the region.

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Strengthen habitat protection measures for the Siberian Crane’s Central population at its migration stopover area at Ab-i-Estada in Afghanistan and for the Western population on its wintering grounds at Fereidoonkenar in northern Iran (see the Siberian Crane species account).
  2. Halt further deterioration, drainage, and conversion of wetlands in Black-necked Crane wintering areas.
  3. Establish agricultural management areas (rather than reserves) for wintering Black-necked Cranes in southcentral Tibet and for the breeding population in Sichuan, and develop and implement management plans for these areas.
  4. Determine the feasibility of restoring Black-necked Crane habitats at Xundian, and at historically used sites in western Yunnan and in and around Cao Hai Lake.
  5. Develop a pilot program to protect, maintain, and restore small wetlands in India and Nepal that are, or may potentially be, used by Indian Sarus Cranes. Wetlands in the Brahmaputra Valley are especially important.

Improving the Relationship Between Cranes and Agriculture

In this region, concerns include not only the incidence of crop damage by Eurasian and Demoiselle Cranes, but the effects of changing agricultural practices on Black-necked Cranes and of farming and forestry methods on watersheds and wetlands used by cranes.

  1. Develop research programs to:
  2. Develop and implement farmer education and extension programs to improve farm practices, to provide information about sustainable agriculture practices and the importance of wetlands, and to disseminate information on alternative agricultural production practices that minimize interference between cranes and people.
  3. Develop incentive programs for farmers who adopt farming methods that benefit cranes (e.g., spring plowing, planting of lure crops, etc).

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. For the Siberian Crane:
  2. For the other species in the region, establish systematic monitoring programs to track trends in their populations.
  3. Conduct field surveys of potential wintering areas of the Black-necked Crane in Yunnan Province, China.

Research

  1. Determine more precisely the breeding grounds, migration routes, resting areas, and wintering grounds of the Western and Central populations of the Siberian Crane; the northeast Yunnan, southcentral Tibet, and Bhutan wintering populations of the Black-necked Crane; and the region’s populations of Eurasian and Demoiselle Cranes.
  2. Conduct further research on other crucial aspects of Siberian Crane biology and ecology (see the Siberian Crane species account).
  3. Conduct further research on the ecology, habitat, and conservation needs of the Black-necked Crane on wintering areas in southcentral Tibet, northeast Yunnan, and Bhutan (see the Black-necked Crane species account).
  4. Continue studies of Indian Sarus Crane population trends, habitat needs, threats, local and seasonal movements, and wetland ecology.
  5. Conduct field investigations of the size, status, and habitats of the Tibet population of the Eurasian Crane.

Education and Training

  1. Expand hunter awareness programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan to address problems resulting from high hunting pressure on cranes.
  2. Develop locally-based education and awareness programs, for students and for the general public, focusing on the biology of cranes, the ecology of the steppe and wetland ecosystems, threats to cranes, minimizing of human impacts, and collection of data on the cranes and local flora and fauna.
  3. Establish education centers and develop specially targeted programs in Iran and India emphasizing the uniqueness of the local wintering populations of Siberian Cranes and the need for effective conservation programs.
  4. Complete the planned environmental education center and develop programs for local people and pilgrims at the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary in Nepal.
  5. Provide training opportunities for protected area personnel, including guards, local managers, and volunteers, in field ornithology, censusing techniques, wetland ecology, patrolling, and management and planning.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Continue immediate efforts to bolster the Western and Central populations of the Siberian Crane through the release of captive-raised birds in Russia, India, and Iran.
  2. Assess the status of existing Indian Sarus Crane habitat and the potential for natural recolonization in Pakistan, eastern India, and other portions of the species’ historic range where the species has been extirpated or has reached critically low numbers.
  3. Assess the need for and feasibility of reintroduction of the Demoiselle Crane in areas of the species’ historic range where the species has been extirpated, has reached critically low numbers, or occurs only during migration.


6. East Asia

Countries Included

Eastern China, eastern Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia (Transbaikal and Far East).

Species Present

This region has the greatest diversity of cranes in the world. Seven species occur regularly: the Demoiselle, Siberian, Sandhill, White-naped, Eurasian, Hooded, and Red-crowned Cranes. Four of these (Siberian, White-naped, Hooded, and Red-crowned) are threatened. Three (White-naped, Hooded, and Red-crowned) are endemic to the region. The great majority of the world’s Siberian Cranes occur here. The breeding range of the Lesser Sandhill Crane extends into the region in extreme northeastern Siberia. These Sandhill Cranes migrate to northern Mexico, but occasional vagrants winter in Japan and elsewhere in the region.

Recommended Actions
International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Develop an umbrella international agreement on the conservation of the migratory cranes in the region.
  2. Secure political support for efforts to designate significant portions of the Korean Demilitarized Zone as an international protected area. As part of this initiative, institutional and financial support should be given for increased interaction and exchanges between North and South Korean ornithologists, wetland experts, and other biologists, and their counterparts in other parts of the region.
  3. Secure stronger political support for ongoing international efforts to integrate conservation and sustainable development goals in the Amur River basin.
  4. Develop comprehensive recovery plans for the Red-crowned and Siberian Cranes to coordinate habitat conservation, surveys, research, education, and (if necessary) captive propagation and release programs.
  5. Provide support for cooperative management of the international protected areas at Lake Khanka on the China-Russia border and in the China-Russia-Mongolia border region.
  6. Continue and expand cooperative crane migration studies and the application of this information in collaborative conservation projects.
  7. Develop procedures to improve inter-regional coordination and communication of scientific information on the Demoiselle, Sandhill, and Eurasian Crane populations.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Develop educational materials to enhance awareness of existing legislation protecting cranes.
  2. Strengthen legal protections for wetlands at the national level.
  3. Strengthen law enforcement capacity to protect cranes and regulate economic activities in protected areas.
  4. Strengthen efforts to curtail poaching of cranes and other protected wetland species through increased patrolling both within and outside protected areas and through adoption of increased fines. This is especially important at Poyang Lake in China.
  5. Strengthen requirements for environmental impact assessments in the planning of large-scale development projects (dams and reservoirs, utility lines, roads, railways, etc.) affecting crane habitat.
  6. Develop in Russia a comprehensive policy and program to protect the breeding grounds of the Hooded Crane.

Protected Areas

  1. Strengthen management of existing protected areas used by cranes. This often involves development and implementation of comprehensive management plans (see species accounts for more specific measures). Priority areas for attention are:
  2. Expand existing protected areas, or upgrade the current protected status, to protect additional wetlands and adjacent vulnerable grassland areas used by cranes, and to provide for effective buffer zones. Priority areas are:
  3. Designate new protected areas. Priority areas for consideration are:
  4. Encourage the adoption of sustainable methods of reed harvesting, grazing, and other resource use in protected areas of northeastern China and southeast Russia used by breeding cranes.
  5. In China, upgrade provincial nature reserves to the status of national-level reserves.
  6. Encourage stronger in-country cooperation among the national agencies with jurisdiction over protected areas.

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Undertake studies to assess the environmental impacts of the Three Gorges dam on the wetlands of the Yangtze River basin and to develop possible mitigation strategies.
  2. Assess and disseminate information on the social and environmental impacts of the dams proposed for the Amur River.
  3. Develop plans for dispersing the wintering flocks of Hooded and White-naped Cranes at Izumi, Japan.
  4. Restrict further greenhouse development in and near the Taegu Hooded Crane Protection Area in South Korea.
  5. Discontinue aerial target bombing of the buffer zone at Lake Khanka on the China-Russian border.
  6. Undertake basic measures to protect the aquatic ecosystems of the Chinese wetland reserves (especially through more effective measures to control grazing, cutting of grasses and reeds, and inflow of sewage and pollution).
  7. Develop integrated, watershed-scale land use and conservation programs in areas with critical wetland habitat. (See global recommendation #2 above).
  8. Identify smaller wetlands within farmlands in the Sanjiang Plain and other portions of northeastern China that are important for wildlife, and develop and disseminate simple management guidelines for them.
  9. To reduce the pressure to convert additional wetlands, support the adoption of more efficient farming practices in areas of the China-Russian border (the Amur basin and Sanjiang Plain), especially through educational programs, demonstration sites, and rural development projects. More effective processing and marketing methods are also needed (especially on the Russia side of the border).
  10. Develop techniques to reduce crane mortality from poisoning and utility line collisions in China’s Yancheng Salt Flats region. 1
  11. Assess the impact of grazing and agricultural development on the Siberia/East Asia population of the Demoiselle Crane.

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. Initiate or continue annual counts of the threatened crane species at their wintering grounds:
  2. Conduct aerial surveys of all wintering cranes at least once each winter (preferably more often) at Poyang Lake Nature Reserve and in surrounding lands.
  3. Conduct regular counts of migratory cranes at key points along their migration routes in the Korea Peninsula and in China (e.g., at Beidehe).
  4. Monitor breeding populations:
  5. Develop a coordinated and standardized monitoring program to determine the size of, and trends in, the region’s populations of Demoiselle, Sandhill, and Eurasian Cranes.

Research

  1. Continue banding, radio telemetry, and satellite radio tracking programs to define and further clarify the migration routes, staging and stopover areas, wintering grounds, and local movements (especially on the wintering grounds) of cranes in the region. This should include support for development and deployment of more reliable satellite telemetry equipment for monitoring migration routes. Habitat studies should be undertaken to complement tracking studies.
  2. Conduct coordinated international studies to better understand the timing of migration, the numbers involved, flight behavior, and climatic influences on migration patterns.
  3. Expand basic research on Siberian Crane biology and ecology in the region (see the Siberian Crane species account for recommended research topics).
  4. Expand research on habitat characteristics and requirements of the threatened crane species in the region. Specific high priority topics include:
  5. Expand research on cranes in the Korean Peninsula. Priority topics include: monitoring of populations along migration corridors and in wintering areas; field studies of the cranes wintering along the Sachon River; continued surveys of the Han River, Imjin River, and Choelwon wintering sites, the Han River estuary stopover site, and other known and potential migration and stopover sites; and studies of the impact of different agricultural practices on crane habitat.
  6. Assess the risk of disease outbreak and monitor risk factors at the wintering grounds at of the Hooded and White-naped Cranes at Izumi, Japan.
  7. Conduct research on the use of wetland resources by people (both within and beyond protected areas), the impacts of these uses on cranes, and sustainable alternatives to overexploitation. This is especially critical in the Amur River basin; at Zhalong, Changlindao, and Hong He Nature Reserves in China; and in the middle Yangtze River basin.
  8. Study the incidence of crane mortality due to human factors (such as poisoning and utility line collisions) at the Yancheng Salt Flats in China.
  9. Expand research on the number, status, distribution, and breeding and wintering areas of Demoiselle, Sandhill, and Eurasian Cranes in the region.

Education and Training

  1. Develop a comprehensive crane and wetland conservation education strategy for the region, emphasizing the need to develop linkages within watersheds and flyways.
  2. Develop and disseminate educational materials for students and for the general public that provide basic biological information about cranes. This is especially important in northern and eastern China, along the middle Yangtze River, and in coastal China, eastern Mongolia, and the Russian Far East. Materials should be prepared in local languages and designed specifically for each area.
  3. Promote exchange programs involving students from the breeding and wintering ranges of the various species and populations.
  4. Strengthen professional training programs involving crane and wetland conservation and the management of protected areas.
  5. Provide opportunities for conservationists, scientists, and officials to participate in international exchanges and training, and for international teams to participate in cooperative field work and conservation planning exercises.
  6. Disseminate information on protected area management and conservation planning to administrators, policymakers, and managers through conferences, field trips, demonstration areas, and various media.
  7. Encourage public participation in crane counts and surveys, especially along migration routes and at wintering grounds.
  8. Develop special educational programs on crane conservation and the sustainable use of wetland resources for farmers and other local residents in and near protected wetlands and other important crane areas. In particular, farmers and the general public in North and South Korea should be provided with more information about cranes through television programs, publications, and other media.
  9. Provide farmers (especially in Russia and China) with information on more efficient and sustainable methods of agricultural production and processing.
  10. Develop observation posts and interpretive materials for ecotourists in protected areas used by cranes. These should serve not only to inform visitors, but to reduce the incidence of human disturbance of cranes.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Ensure that no contact between wild and captive-reared cranes takes place during the winter at artificial feeding stations in Japan and China.
  2. Continue research on the release of cranes in Japan and Russia, especially the development of techniques that encourage wild birds to use habitat altered by human activity.


7. Southeast Asia

Countries Included

Cambodia, China (portions of Yunnan Province), Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam.

Species Present

The Eastern Sarus Crane is the only crane that now occurs in this region. Its range within the region has been fragmented, and its breeding grounds and seasonal movements are poorly known. The subspecies has been decimated in recent decades and immediate steps need to be taken to gain information about its status, to protect and manage key remaining habitats, and to stimulate international conservation projects. Black-necked Cranes were formerly found during the winter in portions of Myanmar and Vietnam, but are no longer believed to occur in these countries. Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes formerly wintered in the region, but are now found rarely if at all.

Recommended Actions
International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Promote international-level watershed planning for conservation and sustainable development in the Mekong River basin.
  2. Transfer the Sarus Crane from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Enact strong laws to protect cranes in Cambodia and Laos.
  2. Strengthen enforcement of existing laws prohibiting the hunting or capture of cranes and protecting their wetland habitats in China and Thailand.
  3. Adopt trade restrictions and penalties to discourage dealers who capture or deal in wild cranes in Cambodia and Thailand.

Protected Areas

  1. Identify and secure protection for important breeding areas in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.
  2. Identify and secure protection of dry season habitats in Cambodia, China, Laos, and Vietnam.
  3. Designate a second protected area (in addition to Tram Chim National Reserve) in Vietnam to protect early dry season habitat.
  4. Implement the existing management plan for the Tram Chim National Reserve in Vietnam.

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Develop and implement national-level wetland conservation plans in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  2. Include provisions for the protection of Sarus Cranes and wetlands within watershed-level plans for conservation and sustainable development in the Mekong River basin.
  3. Define dry-season habitat needs for Sarus Cranes outside of the existing protected areas in the Plain of Reeds in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. Develop long-term surveying and monitoring programs at Tonle Sap and other breeding areas in northern Cambodia during the breeding season, and in the Mekong River delta between Phnom Penh and the Cambodia-Vietnam border during the dry season.
  2. Assess the status of the Eastern Sarus Crane in Laos, Myanmar, and southern and western Yunnan Province in China.

Research

  1. Determine the location, habitat needs, and behavior of breeding cranes in Cambodia and Laos, and of dry season flocks in the wetlands of the Vietnam/Cambodia border region.
  2. Determine the distribution of Eastern Sarus Cranes in Myanmar and Laos to clarify whether there are one or two populations.
  3. Expand hydrological studies of the wetlands of the Plain of Reeds.
  4. Conduct banding and satellite tracking studies of the cranes at the Tram Chim National Reserve to determine local and seasonal movements.
  5. Confirm the extinction of the Sarus Crane in the Philippines and assess the potential for natural recolonization or reintroduction of the species.
  6. Confirm the extirpated status of the Black-necked Crane in Myanmar and Vietnam.
  7. Determine the status of wintering Eurasian and Demoiselle Cranes in the region.

Population and Habitat Viability Assessment

  1. Complete the PHVA that has been initiated for the Eastern Sarus Crane.

Education and Training

  1. Develop local educational programs for students on the biology and conservation of Eastern Sarus Cranes.
  2. Complete the planned environmental education center at Tram Chim National Reserve in Vietnam.
  3. Provide expanded training opportunities for wildlife conservation officials in Cambodia and Laos.
  4. Support farmer education and extension programs involving sustainable agriculture and the importance of wetlands.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Determine the subspecies and reproductive status and history of the Sarus Cranes in Thailand’s captive propagation centers, and develop a studbook to summarize this information.
  2. Assess the status of existing habitat and the potential for natural recolonization of the Eastern Sarus Crane in Cambodia, China, Thailand, and the Philippines.


8. Australia/New Guinea

Countries Included

Australia, Indonesia (New Guinea), Papua New Guinea.

Species Present

Two species occur in this region: the Brolga (in much of northern and eastern Australia and in southern New Guinea) and the Australian Sarus Crane (primarily in Queensland). Neither of these are threatened at the regional scale, although the southern population of the Brolga has declined substantially in portions of Australia.

Recommended Actions
International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Transfer the Sarus Crane from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.
  2. Support international exchanges of conservation biologists, ornithologists, and officials from New Guinea, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Enact stronger wetland conservation policies and legislation at both the local and national level in Australia.

Initiating a Brolga Conservation Program in New Guinea

  1. Assess the past and present status of New Guinea’s Brolga populations and their habitats, and the movements of Brolgas between Australia and New Guinea.
  2. Define the conservation needs of these populations and their habitats.
  3. Assess the need for stronger legal protection for wetlands in New Guinea.

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Strengthen watershed-level approaches to wetland management within the region, especially in the coastal wetlands of northeastern Australia, the Burdekin River basin, and the Murray-Darling river system.
  2. Identify and protect critical dry season Brolga congregation areas.
  3. Conduct a general assessment of the status of crane habitat in northeastern Australia.
  4. Define critical habitat for Brolgas, both breeding and non-breeding dry season habitat.
  5. Develop coordinated programs to encourage farmers and other private landholders to maintain and restore crane habitat, especially breeding habitat in southern Australia.

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. Establish a systematic censusing and monitoring program for both Brolgas and Sarus Cranes in Australia, and for Brolgas in New Guinea.
  2. Monitor the movements of crane populations through an expanded banding and radio tracking program.

Research

  1. Determine the size of, and trend in, the Brolga population.
  2. Determine with grater accuracy the size and distribution of the Australian Sarus Crane population.
  3. Conduct studies of the traditional flocking sites used by Brolgas during their seasonal movements as a basis for protection of these areas.
  4. Define critical habitat, especially optimal breeding habitat, for the Australian Sarus Crane.
  5. Conduct studies of Brolga breeding habitat and biology throughout the species’ range.
  6. Identify and assess the status of potentially threatened Brolga populations in southern Australia.
  7. Conduct studies to support the restoration of degraded wetlands and other habitats used by cranes.
  8. Conduct studies of the interspecific relationship between Brolgas and Sarus Cranes during the dry season.

Education and Training

  1. Expand education programs throughout the region, with emphasis on the function and conservation of wetland ecosystems.
  2. Expand extension and advisory services to foster the involvement of farmers and other private landowners in crane conservation activities.
  3. Secure financial support for development of the permanent wetland/Brolga interpretive center at Cromarty.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Develop a regional management plan for the captive population of Brolgas.
  2. Determine the need to develop a studbook and/or to review and update International Species Information System (ISIS) data on the Brolga.

9. North America

Countries Included

Canada, Cuba, Mexico, United States of America

Species Present

This region includes the world’s most abundant crane species, the Sandhill, and the world’s rarest, the Whooping Crane. The breeding range of the Sandhill Crane extends into northeastern Russia (Region 6). Endangered subspecies of the Sandhill Crane occur in Cuba and Mississippi (USA).

Recommended Actions
Implementing Recovery Plans

  1. Fully implement the recovery actions recommended and described in the U.S. Whooping Crane Recovery Plan (USFWS 1994) and Canada’s National Recovery Plan for the Whooping Crane (Edwards et al. 1994).
  2. Fully implement the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Recovery Plan (USFWS 1991). See Recovery of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane in the Sandhill Crane species account in Section 2.

International Agreements and Cooperation

  1. Combine and coordinate the U.S. and Canadian Whooping Crane recovery plans.
  2. Support continued international cooperation in developing a comprehensive conservation program for the Cuban Sandhill Crane.
  3. Expand cooperation between biologists in Mexico’s Sandhill Crane wintering grounds and those working in the breeding range of these populations.

Legal and Cultural Protection

  1. Secure legal protection for the instream flow of the Platte River.
  2. Consider separate listing of the Florida Sandhill Crane by the USFWS.

Surveys/Censuses/Monitoring

  1. Continue annual breeding and wintering ground surveys of the Whooping Crane.
  2. Continue semi-annual censuses of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane.
  3. Continue field surveys of the Cuban Sandhill Crane population and establish a monitoring program to assess trends in, and threats to, the populations and their habitats.
  4. Continue current surveys and counts of migratory Sandhill Crane populations.
  5. Develop improved methods to assess the size, status, and population dynamics of the mid-continental population of Sandhill Cranes.
  6. Continue close monitoring of the legal kill, crippling losses, and poaching of Sandhill Cranes in areas they are hunted.

Protected Areas

  1. Continue efforts to prevent habitat loss due to shoreline erosion at Aransas NWR.
  2. Ensure long-term maintenance of freshwater inflow into the bay systems at and near Aransas NWR.
  3. Monitor the level of human disturbance at Aransas NWR and adjacent wintering grounds, and institute measures to minimize detrimental activities.

Habitat Protection and Management

  1. Maintain instream flow of the Platte River.
  2. Provide continued financial and institutional support for efforts to protect and restore wet meadows and riparian roosting areas at spring staging areas along the North Platte and Platte Rivers. Broaden efforts to increase public understanding of and support for habitat protection and restoration in these areas through education and appropriate incentives and policy adjustments.
  3. Implement existing habitat management plans for Whooping Crane release sites in the Kissimmee prairie region in Florida.
  4. Evaluate and develop preliminary habitat management guidelines for potential Whooping Crane release sites.
  5. Identify priority wetland and upland habitats of the Cuban, Florida, and Mississippi Cranes for strengthened protection.
  6. Expand habitat restoration efforts in areas used by (or that may potentially be used by) the Cuban and Mississippi Cranes.
  7. Strengthen protection and management of critical staging and wintering areas of the migratory Sandhill Cranes, especially the seasonal playa lakes of western Texas and eastern New Mexico, wintering grounds of the Greater Sandhill Crane in Florida, riparian wetlands in the western United States and northern Mexico, and Laguna de Babicora in northern Mexico.
  8. Develop compensation programs and policy incentives to reward farmers whose management practices benefit cranes.
  9. Expand efforts to reduce utility line collisions in areas where this is a significant problem.
  10. Encourage adoption of habitat management techniques (e.g., lure crops) to minimize potential damage from crop depredation.

Research

Priority topics for crane research in the region are:

  1. The capacity of the Aransas NWR winter habitat to absorb additional Whooping Cranes if the population continues to increase.
  2. Expansion of the breeding range of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo of Whooping Cranes at Wood Buffalo National Park.
  3. Development of techniques for reintroducing and establishing new breeding populations of Whooping Cranes and for establishing migratory routes among released birds.
  4. Evaluation of potential Whooping Crane reintroduction sites in Canada.
  5. Monitoring and evaluation of disease risks among the concentrated populations of Sandhill Cranes and among all Whooping Cranes.
  6. Development of a detailed research agenda and management plan for the Cuban Sandhill Crane, with recommendations for habitat management and the establishment or expansion of protected areas.
  7. Improved assessments of the size, status, demographics, and population dynamics of the mid-continental Sandhill Crane populations.
  8. Clearer delineation of populations, migration routes, range expansions, and winter ranges of migratory Sandhill Cranes.
  9. Continued studies of the factors behind poor reproduction and recruitment rates of Mississippi Sandhill Cranes in the wild.
  10. Clarification of the intraspecific genetic structure and phylogenetic relationships among Mississippi, Florida and Cuban Sandhill Cranes; and among Lesser, Canadian, and Greater Sandhill Cranes.
  11. Determination of the extent of crop depredation problems in different portions of the Sandhill Crane’s range.
  12. Research relevant to management of Sandhill Crane populations that are now hunted. Analyses should seek to determine the differential impact of hunting on subspecies and subpopulations.

Education and Training

  1. Develop education programs that involve students in crane counts, censuses, and long-term monitoring programs.
  2. Develop cooperative projects involving schools in Russia, Canada, the United States, and Mexico in the study of avian migration, using Sandhill Cranes as a model.
  3. Develop primary and secondary school curriculum materials that use Sandhill Cranes to communicate information about wetlands and the biology, status, and conservation of Sandhill Cranes and other crane species.
  4. Provide international training opportunities for Cuban field ecologists, ornithologists, and conservationists.
  5. Develop in Cuba a model education program focused on the importance, status, and conservation needs of the Cuban Sandhill Crane.
  6. Use present knowledge of crane social behavior to communicate lessons about the role of animal behavior in conservation.
  7. Develop extension programs and demonstration projects to involve farmers in conservation education and habitat protection activities.

Captive Propagation and Reintroduction

  1. Continue efforts to establish two additional, separate, self-sustaining, wild populations of Whooping Cranes.
  2. Continue efforts to establish a viable, self-sustaining population of Whooping Cranes in captivity.
  3. Implement the recommendations of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane PHVA (USFWS 1991), including completion of the transfer of breeding pairs to new locations in the southern United States.
  4. Assess the need for a captive propagation and reintroduction program in Cuba.

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