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 Wattle Crane
One of 5 critically endangered bird species in South Africa.
There are 235 birds 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 (PAAZAB) 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
Jeanne Marie Pittman
C/o Johannesburg Zoo
Private Bag x13 Parkview
Johannesburg, South Africa 2122
Cell phone: +27 72 874 9711
Work phone: + 27 011 646 2000 Ext 239