Did you know?
The wing feathers of the blue crane were once sought after by Zulu kings for their royal headdresses.
South Africa is home to three crane species, all of which are managed through a dedicated breeding programme at the Hlatikulu Crane & Wetland Sanctuary.
At this bird sanctuary, visitors can learn more about the rescue, rehabilitation and captive breeding programmes created to preserve the blue crane, grey crowned crane and wattled crane.
Due to the loss of its preferred grassland habitat to forestry and farming, blue crane (Anthropoides paradisea) numbers have dropped by approx. 90%. Injured, poisoned or confiscated birds are rehabilitated at Hlatikulu before being released into the surrounding area.
The wattled crane is critically endangered in South Africa, with only 240 individuals remaining in the wetland regions on which they depend for breeding. These cranes construct a large moat around their chosen nesting spot where one or two eggs are laid. Since only a single chick is reared by the parents, the other egg is removed to the Johannesburg Zoo where wattled cranes are also reared for captive breeding purposes.
The crowned crane is the most versatile of the South African crane species, having adapted to life in parklands, farmlands and even on golf estates. Their nests consist of a flattened nest mound in wetlands or near water sources, where up to four eggs are laid at a time. Major threats to the crowned crane include poisoning, powerline collisions and capture for the pet industry.
While the Hlatikulu Crane & Wetland Sanctuary is mainly focused on the rescue and rehabilitation of South Africa's three crane species, the facility also acts as a general sanctuary for other wetland bird and mammal species.