Although cases of Wattled Cranes breeding in summer (December – April) have been reported in Zimbabwe in the past, very few such cases have been documented recently. During the just-ended rainy season, a breeding pair successfully raised a chick in a riverine wetland near Chinyaure village in the Driefontein Grasslands. The breeding site is located on the edges of the Shashe River. During the summer months, the wetland is normally flooded. This year, the area received above-normal rainfall resulting in the wetland being flooded in January. The nest, a large mound of sedges, was built on a raised platform within the wetland. When I visited the area during the first week of May, the water levels had receded. The pair was foraging less than 300 metres from the nesting site.
Since 2003, the EWT’s main partner, BirdLife Zimbabwe, has been working with Site Support Groups (community champions for crane conservation) in the Driefontein Grasslands to assist with monitoring breeding pairs and spreading crane conservation awareness messages. The leader of the Chinyaure Site Support Group Mr. Mudzinga, observed the pair incubating during the last week of January. During a village meeting held in February, villagers were reminded to avoid disturbing the pair. Mr Mudzinga observed the pair with a chick during the second week of March. During an evaluation and conservation awareness workshop held on the 8th of May at Chinyaure, BirdLife Zimbabwe’s Crane Conservation Officer, Togarasei Fakarayi, commended the community for playing an active role in crane and wetland conservation for over a decade. The Driefontein Grasslands was declared a Ramsar Site in January 2013 in recognition of its importance as a wetland that supports globally threatened species.