NGO leads efforts to save endangered grey-crowned cranes

KAGERA: ENDANGERED grey-crowned cranes are at risk of localised extinction due to habitat loss, illegal capture for food and wanton killing of the birds by farmers, a non-government organisation has cautioned.

The organisation, NATURE Tanzania, has called upon Tanzanians to join efforts to preserve the birds which are important tourist attractions.

Nature Tanzania Project Officer Conservation of Grey Crowned Crane in Kagera Region, Mr Leonidas Momburi told the ‘Daily News’ that records show that grey crowned cranes are among endangered species worldwide including Tanzania. Historically, he said in the world, grey-crowned cranes were only found in East Africa and South Africa.

“According to the studies including those conducted by Nature Tanzania in the area bordering the countries of Rwanda and Uganda in Kagera Region, Tanzania has a small number of such birds compared to the neighbouring countries that took early measures to protect them,” said Mr Momburi Major causes for their population decline are attributed mainly to habitat loss and the illegal capture of live birds and collection of their eggs, he said.

He also said that farmers kill them by poison claiming that they are destructive to their crops. According to him, Nature Tanzania aims to carry out the conservation project of grey crowned cranes in the whole part of northwestern Tanzania but due to limited funds, they currently carry out the project in three districts of Kyerwa,

Karagwe and Misenyi, especially in the areas along Kagera River where the birds are found in large numbers. He said the conservation project in Kagera started in 2020 and statistics show that the number of grey-crowned cranes in the area keeps increasing from 95 in 2022 to 128 last year.

He said that grey-crowned cranes are important tourist attractions and, a source of revenue in the country and they can detect wetland areas because they do not live in dry areas. To ensure the safety of the birds, Mr Momburi said that Nature Tanzania has already begun to educate the community living near the conservation areas to create awareness about the importance of the birds.

He also said Nature Tanzania is making a close monitoring of the development of the birds from their nests to know the number of eggs laid, and the hatchlings released so that they can finally know their total number.

In another development, Nature Tanzania acknowledges the support from the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA), NABU International Foundation and the good cooperation from the government of Tanzania and the local government authorities at the village and ward levels.

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