In December last year, University of Cape Town student, Megan Murgatroyd – who had assisted us with the captures of Blue Cranes for our tracking project in the Western Cape – was called to assist with the identification of two young birds confiscated in a small town, called Calvinia. The two birds were identified as Blue Cranes and Megan offered to take care of the birds until a more suitable facility was located. For the next three months Megan ensured the birds were well taken care of while preventing imprinting. The birds were then moved to a sanctuary in the Western Cape, but unfortunately the regular presence of people were making the birds habituated. It was for this reason, we worked together with the Overberg Crane Group and the provincial conservation authority, CapeNature, to release the birds in the Overberg close to wild Blue Crane flocks.
This idea was complicated by the fact that the Western Cape, including the Overberg region, is in the grips of one of the worst droughts in living memory. Thus making the availability of roost sites a concern. However, after some searching a suitable release site with wild Blue Cranes and nearby roost sites was found.
The release took place on a sunny Sunday and the two youngsters enjoyed about 20 minutes of stretching, jumping and dancing together, before they both took flight and joined a nearby wild flock of Blue Cranes. The release couldn’t have gone better and a chance at a future in the wild is definitely what we gave them.
Many thanks to Megan Murgatroyd of the University of Cape Town and Keir Lynch of the Overberg Crane Group/Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust for their efforts.
Article by Tanya Smith, ICF/EWT Partnership Regional Manager: Southern Africa