Year round we have resident populations of Blue Crane, South Africa’s national bird, but they are never so prolific as in our winter months – May, June, July and August.
The Blue Crane mating dance is one of the most hauntingly beautiful experiences that I have witnessed on Samara, made even more special because Dr Ian Player was there with us at the time.
They are symbols of peace, happiness and longevity because of the lifelong devotion displayed by mating pairs.
Blue cranes lay their eggs in the bare veld, often close to water and love our Paardekraal area. They are quite common in the Karoo, usually in pairs or small family parties. They lays their eggs on the ground and graze in the grasslands eating seeds, small reptiles and insects.
The primary causes of the sudden decline of the Blue Crane are human population growth, the conversion of grasslands into commercial tree plantations, and poisoning: deliberate (to protect crops) or accidental (baits intended for other species, and as a side-effect of crop dusting.
The South African government has stepped up legal protection for the Blue Crane as they are now declared Vulnerable. Other conservation measures are focusing on research, habitat management, education, and recruiting the help of private landowners. The Endangered Wildlife Trust does wonderful work in this regard and you can visit their website for more information. www.ewt.org.za