My intro to the Black Crowned Crane

Absorbing mass data on all fifteen species of Cranes is tough, so I’m rewarding serendipity by gradually introducing myself to each unfamiliar species as it crops up in the news around me or in my reading. The August issue of The Bugle, the wonderful in-house magazine of the International Crane Foundation, features a stunning aerial photo cover of a triangular slash of an African lake in Chad (which, by the way, I know nothing about, almost as if it doesn’t exist, which I guess typifies the global exposure of a number of African countries), around which a couple of hundred Black Crowned Cranes stand and feed and dance. Hello, Black Crowned Crane, I whispered. It’s a resplendent bird of black body with white wings and a black-and-red-and-white head festooned by stiff straw-gold feathers.

“Zakouma, land of the Black Crowned Crane” is a long article by ICF President Rich Beilfuss, and it’s a missive of great hope. A map of northern Africa shows 13 actual or possible strongholds of this Vulnerable species in half a dozen countries, including Zakouma National Park in Chad. Beilfuss:

This spring, I had the pleasure of traveling to the wilds of Zakouma and counting the highest number of cranes ever recorded from the ground anywhere in Africa – 13,885 Black Crowned Cranes!

Since the ICF website enumerates this species, with imprecise knowledge, as 43,000 to 70,000 birds, we’re talking about a fifth to a third of the entire population!

I was heartened (and that doesn’t often happen these days) by the upbeat message:

The most exciting news is perhaps not the discovery of so many cranes, but the realization that the cranes are in such good (conservation) hands.

I can’t wait to see the Black Crowned Cranes for myself, perhaps in 2021!