article / 14 November 2023

Grey Crowned Cranes Census, Kenya 2023

Highlights from my participation in the nationwide grey crowned cranes census organized by the International Crane Foundation, and other partners between February and March 2023 in Kenya to survey one of the most endangered and iconic bird species in Africa.

Cranes Census 2023

I'm happy to share with you some of the highlights of the grey crowned cranes census that I participated in between February and March 2023 in Kenya. This was a nationwide survey of one of the most endangered and iconic bird species in Africa, which faces threats from habitat loss, poaching, and trade. The census was organized by the International Crane Foundation, and other partners, and involved hundreds of volunteers, rangers, and researchers.

The census covered 47 counties in Kenya, using a combination of ground and aerial surveys. We used GPS devices, cameras, and binoculars to record the location, number, and behavior of the cranes we encountered. We also collected data on the habitat quality, land use, and human activities in the areas where the cranes were found. The census aimed to provide an updated estimate of the population size and distribution of the grey crowned cranes in Kenya, as well as to identify the key threats and conservation actions needed to protect them.

The census was a great opportunity for me to learn more about these amazing birds and their ecology. I was amazed by their beauty, grace, and intelligence. They have a distinctive grey body with a black and white crown, a red patch on the cheek, and a long golden crest. They are very social and form lifelong pairs. They communicate with each other using loud trumpeting calls that can be heard from far away. They feed on seeds, insects, frogs, and other small animals. They nest on the ground or in wetlands, and lay two to three eggs at a time.

The census was also a great opportunity for me to meet and interact with other people who share my passion for wildlife conservation. I met some of the local community members who live near the cranes' habitats and learned about their challenges and perspectives. I also met some of the experts who have been studying and protecting the cranes for many years and learned from their experience and knowledge. I made some new friends and contacts that I hope to keep in touch with.

The census was not without its challenges and difficulties. We had to deal with long distances, rough roads, bad weather, and sometimes hostile landowners. We also had to face the sad reality of seeing some of the cranes injured, sick, or dead due to human activities. We saw some of the cranes with leg bands or rings that indicated that they had been captured or traded illegally. We also saw some of the cranes' habitats degraded or destroyed by agriculture, urbanization, or pollution.

Despite these challenges, we also saw some signs of hope and progress. We saw some of the cranes thriving in well-managed protected areas or community conservancies. We saw some of the landowners who have adopted crane-friendly practices such as leaving buffer zones around wetlands or planting native trees. We saw some of the local communities who have embraced crane conservation as a source of pride, education, or income. We saw some of the government agencies and NGOs who have been working together to implement laws, policies, and projects that benefit both the cranes and the people.

The census was a rewarding and memorable experience for me. I'm glad I was able to contribute to this important initiative that will help inform and guide future conservation efforts for the grey crowned cranes in Kenya. I'm looking forward to seeing the final results and recommendations of the census once they are analyzed and published. I hope that this census will inspire more people to appreciate and support these magnificent birds and their habitats.

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