Just recently we conducted our 3rd annual Grey Crowned Cranes census. We had teams of staff and volunteers visiting the field all over the country to site cranes as well as an aerial survey taking place over Akagera National Park and Rugezi marsh.
With numbers of Grey Crowned Cranes in Rwanda previously recorded at 459 and 487, the numbers sighted this year are extremely exciting. We also want to carefully understand the trend over time and know that this increase, whilst very positive, doesn’t mean that we can stop working hard to protect this endangered species.
Why are numbers so much higher this year? We believe that this is a result of a few things:
1) Our continued efforts countrywide to stop the illegal trade and protect this species For example, Rugezi marsh is showing a continued rise of numbers suggesting better management and protection, as well as a reduction in the number of illegal activities (cutting grass, grazing cows). The numbers of juvenile cranes sighted across the country is increasing which suggests increased breeding success.
2) Fluctuations in cross-boundary movements of cranes Many of our crane sightings occur nearby country borders – fluctuations in these areas could account for the high number. We need increased cross-boundary collaboration and improved monitoring programmes.
3) A strong network of Conservation Champions better monitoring cranes in the wild Our team of 30 Community Conservation Champions have made our job much easier, knowing where cranes are, their general patterns and movements as well as collaboration with communities helping us with information and sightings.
Our ultimate goal is to have a stable and growing population of Grey Crowned Cranes in Rwanda and regionally. Check out our website to see all we are doing to protect this endangered species.