No more spectacular group of birds exist than the worlds 15 species of cranes, and probably no single group is in more need of protection. The number of these ancient birds has been badly depleted over the last century. South Africa is home to an estimated 12 000 of the world’s population of 30 000 grey crowned cranes. These special birds are on the endangered list.
All cranes are large to very large birds, including the world’s tallest flying bird. They are stately inhabitants of open wetlands, wet plains and grasslands and they occur on all continents except Antarctica and South America. In South Africa, we have three species of cranes, the Grey Crowned Crane, the Wattled Crane, and our National bird, the Blue Crane, which is endemic to South Africa