African Crane Conservation Programme

African Crane Trade Project

This project aims to reduce illegal trade and the impact of the captive crane trade on wild crane populations by implementing mitigation measures targeted at reducing supply of and demand for wild caught cranes. Africa's cranes are being taken from the wild and traded illegally. Some of the birds are eaten or used for traditional purposes, but the vast majority are turned into domestic pets and traded internationally. Preliminary research has shown that the numbers of birds caught in the wild in certain regions – Mali, Guinea, Uganda and Tanzania – is unsustainable and is significant and concerning in areas such as Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan. Research has also shown that local communities are not benefiting from this trade, but rather individuals and organised crime syndicates are reaping the illegal rewards. Most of these cranes are destined for captive facilities and indications are that the Middle and Far East contribute primarily to this demand, and that the UAE is a significant conduit. Although there are over 12 000 captive facilities internationally, only 1200 of these belong to formalised zoo associations. Analyses suggest that none of the captive populations within these formalised structures are viable and self sustaining. Although it is most likely that private facilities are the primary demand sector, and these ‘formal zoos’ are not the key problem at the moment, this status will change when current stock dies out.