The Wattled Crane Recovery Programme is a conservation initiative aimed at preventing local extinction of the Wattled Crane through the collection of abandoned eggs from wild birds and the subsequent release of captive-reared chicks back into the wild.

The Plight of the Wattled Crane

The Wattled Crane is one of 5 critically endangered bird species in South Africa. There are 235 Wattled Cranes left across South Africa Major threats include habitat loss, power line collisions and accidental poisoning.

The Role of the Programme

The programme is managed by the Johannesburg Zoo in cooperation with the South African Crane Working Group (SACWG), the African Assosication of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) and the Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife (EKZNW). 10 Participating facilities provide housing, food and reproductive management for the breeding flock.

Collecting eggs from the wild

When 2 eggs are laid, I chick is reared by the parents and t other is abandoned, thus removal of second eggs has no detrimental effect on the wild population. Aerial surveys to locate nests are conducted with the assistance of the Bateleurs and EKZNW. Fieldworkers from the Endangered Wildlife Trust monitor the nests throughout the breeding season.

Chicks fly before they can walk

Airlink provides air transport for the chicks to fly from Kwazulu Natal to Johannesburg when they are two to three days of age. Chicks are reared using a puppet and costume to prevent human imprinting. At 6-8 months of age the chicks which are not used for the captive breeding programme, are released into existing flocks of wild cranes


Dr Francois le Grange, BSC, BVSc. Associate Veterinarian
Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ)
Communications & Administration Co-ordinator (WCRP)

Private Bag x13, Parkview, Johannesburg 2122
Tel: 011 646 2000 ext 239 / Fax: 011 486 1784 // Cell: 072 385 4857
Email: [email protected]

Steering Committee of the WCRP.

PAAZA (Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria) Mike Jordan [email protected] Cell: 0728089961
KZN Crane Foundation & APP Coordinator Lara Jordan [email protected] Cell: 0719035880
EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust) Tanya Smith [email protected] Cell: 0823947476
JCPZ (Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo) Katja Koeppel [email protected] Cell: 0721732282
KZN Wildlife Brent Coverdale [email protected] Cell: 0825609769
KZN Wildlife Athol Marchant [email protected] Cell: 0846827635