In South Africa, a number of birds are listed on the IUCN Red List, with several heading for extinction should some of the threats continue and should the NGOs who are implementing conservation action halt their important work.
The Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus is the most severely threatened crane on the African continent. Recent surveys in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, countries long thought to be strongholds for the Wattled Crane, show that the global population is only half of what has been reported in recent years. Some of the greatest losses have occurred in South Africa, where a 38% decline between 1980 and 2000 left the national population Critically Endangered. Only about 250 individuals remain in South Africa, mostly concentrated in isolated pockets of the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. Kerryn Morrison of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s African Crane Conservation Programme says, “G enetic diversity studies indicate that this sub-population is genetically different from populations in other regions of Africa, making Wattled Crane conservation urgent in South Africa.” The programme works with local communities to protect the wetland habitat of this species. Through this work both the cranes and the communities benefit, as wetlands provide resources and services to these communities in the form of clean drinking water, reeds for crafts, medicinal plants and fertile land in which to grow crops.