Written by: Fair Cape Dairies
The Cape winters are famous for the wind-free, sunny days that are common between the periods of rain. This is the Cape’s green season, and a drive though the farmlands is a favourite pastime of many.
Winter is also the time that South Africa’s national bird, the blue crane (Anthropoides paradiseus), are most likely to be seen in flocks. It is during the winter months that the families come together and the chicks are integrated into the flocks before the adults return to their nesting sites in the spring.
An estimated 50% of the blue cranes in the world – about 25 000 birds – are found in the Western Cape. That may sound like a healthy population, but the species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red Data List of Species for Southern Africa. The biggest dangers facing the blue cranes are habitat loss, poisoning and collisions with power lines.
Over 10% of the Western Cape’s blue crane population is killed by flying into power lines each year and Fair Cape Dairies has decided to join forces with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to do something to change this figure.
“July is blue crane month, so we are encouraging the general public to join us on the crane spotting campaign,” said Louis Loubser, Marketing Director of Fair Cape Dairies.
The EWT has shown that putting markers on the lines can help, but they need to know more about the cranes’ movements so that they know which lines to mark. The organisation is fitting 15 blue cranes with radio tracking devices in order to get a greater understanding of their movements, and employing a PHd student to help to develop a conservation strategy for the birds.
“But that is just 15 birds,” Loubser said. “We want people to help by recording where and when they see blue cranes and posting pictures and GPS coordinates, if they have them, to our Facebook page. The more we know about our magnificent national bird, the more likely it will be gracing our farmlands for generations to come,” he said.
“The slogan ‘Do the Right Thing’ is at the core of the work we do,” explained Loubser. “We believe in making a real and meaningful difference – and that includes playing our part to ensure that our magnificent national bird graces our farmlands for generations to come.”
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