Another ember

Grey Crowned Cranes in Uganda

Four of the fifteen Crane species are in South Africa. None are in great shape, as species in the Anthropocene Era. See these splendid, primordial-looking Grey Crowned Cranes? The photo is from Uganda.

My limited research suggests I can see all four in one African trip. The mechanics are not straightforward. I think I’d need to sign on for two separate wildlife tours (hopefully birding focused). Mucho $$$$s, swadges of time. The best time of year is sometime in February or thereabouts. And let’s be sensible: February 2023 might not be the best notion for an African voyage, pandemic-wise. But what about 2024? Should I plan now?

Cranes suffer from illegal wildlife trade

Stolen Grey Crowned Cranes recaptured

ICF President Rich Beilfuss writes today about something I guess I’d been aware of at the periphery of my attention, without according it much importance. All 15 Crane species have, at least in the past and also undoubtedly in the present, been hit by black market wildlife traders. Apparently order for up to 500 cranes are placed in that market. Beilfuss stresses the excellent work done by ICF to battle Crane capture and sale. He also ponders if this current pandemic might stimulate greater global focus on wildlife markets, origins of many new diseases. I’m guessing we’ll never snuff out this horrendous activity completely but maybe increased penalties, etc. will ruin thieves’ profit margins.

(Photo by Jim Harris from the article)

Stuffed cranes

Three stuffed cranes in a store

In Amsterdam we stumbled across a store, shut at the time, that features stuffed animals and birds. To my amazement, I saw what I believe are a Sarus Crane, a Black Crowned Crane, and a Grey Crowned Crane, one from Asia or Australia, two from Africa. Two of the species are vulnerable, one endangered. I suppose the only saving grace that sprung to my mind is that these three threatened species must have some front-of-mind awareness in the Western world. But immediately I was seized by repugnance. The three birds must surely have been killed in situ and smuggled into Europe. To do that, then stuff them, then sell them … they’re under threat, hey! As to the buyers…

A desperate sadness seized me.