The Wetlands International Africa office and BirdLife International have recently launched a new initiative in the coastal zone of West Africa to conserve the Vulnerable Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina.
The project aims to determine the current distribution and status of the Black Crowned Crane (breeding and non-breeding) in the coastal zone of West Africa. Its objective is also to determine the scale of domestication and trade and an under- standing of its cultural roots and establish habitat use in both breeding and non-breeding seasons.
The project then plans to develop specific conservation plans for cranes at key sites; improve awareness of cranes and of their wetland habitats through community meetings and other awareness activities. Furthermore, it plans to improve protection status of cranes and other species through local site guardians.
The project will focus on the Senegal Delta, the Casamance region of Senegal and the rice-fields and floodplains of Guinea-Bissau and western Guinea. This region supports the most significant sub-populations of Black Crowned Cranes in West Africa, where they are otherwise only patchily distributed until another significant sub-population much further east in the Lake Chad basin.
Nevertheless, the Black Crowned Crane is in decline across West Africa, largely due to habitat loss, domestication and illegal trade of live birds. The coastal rice-growing zone of the western zone of West Africa remains an important stronghold for the species.
This important initiative between Wetlands International Africa and BirdLife involves national partners in all participating countries, including national / local NGOs, which will execute activities on the ground. Black Crowned Cranes play an important role in local culture and tradition, so local engagement will be essential for conservation success.
WIA and BirdLife project is supported financially by the North of England Zoological Society (NEZS) / Chester Zoo and the MAVA Foundation, and takes place in 2013 and 2014.
Pape Diomaye THIARE
Communications and Media Coordinator
Wetlands International Africa
Phone: +221 33 869 16 81