African Crane Conservation Programme

Blue Cranes, agriculture and climate change in South Africa

Blue Cranes have the most restricted range of the world's crane species and are a near endemic to South Africa. Around 50% of the world's population of Blue Cranes are found in the wheat fields and pastoral agricultural mosaic of the Western Cape, an area that will purportedly be affected significantly by climate change. The current predictions around the future of this landscape are still very uncertain both in terms of climate change and as a result of socioeconomic drivers. The EWT-ACCP monitors the breeding success, movements and distribution of Blue Cranes so as to detect changes in response to changes in the agricultural landscape which will allow for effective adaptation of conservation action for the species. In addition, and with around 40% of the world's population of Blue Cranes residing in the Karoo just north of the Western Cape population, an understanding and monitoring of the population here will allow for adaptive conservation action and mitigation of threats -aimed at securing natural habitat and minimising threats to the species.

  • National Bird of South Africa
  • The Blue Crane is mainly found in South Africa’s grasslands, karoo and agricultural landscapes of the Western Cape.
  • Classified as Vulnerable – there are around 25 000 Blue Cranes in South Africa.
  • One of only 2 cranes without red on the face (the other is the Demoiselle crane)
  • Besides the Demoiselle Crane, independent of wetlands, but need water
  • Near endemic to South Africa, with a small population in Namibia of less than 35 birds
  • Primary threats: Powerlines, habitat loss, poisoning
  • Species Fact Sheets more