Iconic, charismatic flagships for Southern and East Africa’s grasslands and wetlands, Grey Crowned Cranes have undergone a long-term large scale population decline of up to 80% over the past 45 years. Now the fastest declining crane species in the world, South Africa has the only sustainable and increasing population in Africa.

To elevate the conservation status of the Grey Crowned Crane which is globally classified as Endangered, an International Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Grey Crowned Crane has been endorsed at the 6th Session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA MOP6) which was held in Bonn, Germany from 9 – 14 November 2015.

Threats to the Grey Crowned Crane population includes habitat loss, the illegal captive trade, human and livestock disturbance, poisoning, and power line collisions and electrocutions. The Plan provides a road map for what is required to stabilize and improve the current situation for the population across its distribution. This includes actions to reduce adult and juvenile mortality and loss of birds; increase breeding success and reproductive rates; reduce further loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitats; and to fill key knowledge gaps about Grey Crowned Cranes.

To secure a future for Grey Crowned Cranes we need governments to acknowledge the current dire situation, and to commit to efforts to resolve this. The adoption of this plan provides a platform and the opportunity for a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder coordinated approach that incorporates government, species experts, NGO’s, research institutions and the private sector.

Although only Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe are signatories to this multilateral agreement, the Plan has incorporated all countries across the species’ range. We will be working with all countries across the range of the species for a coordinated, multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach to secure this magnificent species.

Background on AEWA
The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago. AEWA is developed under the framework of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and also brings together countries and the wider international conservation community in an effort to establish coordinated conservation and management of migratory waterbirds throughout their entire migratory range.

• The Agreement area stretches from the northern reaches of Canada and the Russian Federation to the southernmost tip of Africa, covering 119 Range States from Europe, parts of Asia and Canada, the Middle East and Africa. Currently 74 countries and the European Union (EU) have become a Contracting Party to AEWA (as of 1 May 2015).
• The Agreement provides for coordinated and concerted action to be taken by the Range States throughout the migration system of waterbirds to which it applies.

The development of the plan
• Under the African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), the draft International Single Species Action Plan (ISSAP) for the Conservation of the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) was commissioned to the International Crane Foundation / Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership and was compiled by Kerryn Morrison.
• The action planning process was financially supported by the Federal Office for the Environment in Switzerland, The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union – NABU, Dohmen Family Foundation and Kölner Zoo.
• An action planning workshop was held in Musanze, Rwanda in September 2013. This workshop bought together government representatives, species experts, NGOs and zoos from across the range of the species.
• Drafts of the plan went through rigorous consultations with experts, followed by official consultation with government officials in the range states. The draft plan was approved for submission to MOP6 by the Technical Committee at its 12th Meeting in March 2015 and the Standing Committee at its 10th Meeting in July 2015.

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