Grey crowned crane census to be conducted

Kenya loses at least 800 grey crowned cranes yearly,scientists have warned. Raising the alarm, the scientists added that the bird is facing extinction. They were speaking before the launch of a
nationwide survey for the bird.

“The species is in trouble. Its future is fading fast,” said Wanyoike Wamiti a scientist from the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). The National Museums of Kenya, the Nature and
Biodiversity Conservation Union – Germany (NABU) and other partners will conduct the survey. Forty volunteers forming at least nine teams drawn from Kenya, Germany, UK, France, Rwanda and Tanzania
are to take part.

The environmentalists attributed the decline on habitat loss and illegal collection of the birds’ eggs. In 1986, there were 35,000 of the species. The number reduced to 12,500 in 2015. A partial survey last year showed the birds were endangered. There were only less than 10,000.

“The population has declined by 80 per cent in a period of 40-50 years,” Dr. Peter Njoroge said. He is a senior scientist at NMK. Dr. Njoroge said the census set to run until March 8 will be critical in coming up with an action plan to save the birds. The grey crowned crane is one of the 15 living species of the cranes in the world. It is currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) head of research and multilateral agreements Solomon Kyalo said Kenya, as a signatory to treaties and conventions, is required to cooperate with other countries to
protect the birds.

“KWS is obligated to prepare status of wildlife and present the report to the Cabinet secretary before being tabled in the National Assembly,” he said. Kyalo said the report will help the country to
intensify conservation efforts. After the census, figures will be consolidated with those KWS has in its database. Scientists say invasive plant species ruin the bird’s nesting places.

Nature Kenya’s communications and advocacy manager Serah Munguti said the data will be used in policymaking.