A global overview of cranes: status, threats and conservation priorities

James HARRIS, Claire MIRANDE
2013 Chinese Birds  
This paper reviews the population trends and threats for the 15 species of cranes, and comments on conservation priorities for the family as a whole. Cranes occur on five continents, with greatest diversity in East Asia (nine species) and Sub-Saharan Africa (six species). Eleven crane species are threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List, including one species Critically Endangered, three species Endangered, and seven species Vulnerable. Of the four species of Least Concern,
more » ... Least Concern, population sizes for the Demoiselle (Anthropoides virgo) and Brolga (Grus rubicunda) are not well known but these species are declining in some areas. The Sandhill (G. canadensis) and Eurasian Cranes (G. grus) are the most abundant cranes and have rapidly increased in part due to their flexible selection of foraging habitats and use of agriculture lands and waste grain as a food source. Status for six species -Grey Crowned (Balearica regulorum), Blue (Anthropoides paradise), Black-necked (G. nigricollis), Red-crowned (G. japonensis), Sandhill, and Siberian (G. leucogeranus) -are summarized in more detail to illustrate the diversity of population shifts and threats within the crane family. A crane threat matrix lists the major threats, rates each threat for each species, and scores each threat for the crane family as a whole. Four of the five greatest threats are to the ecosystems that cranes depend upon, while only one of the top threats (human disturbance) relates to human action directly impacting on cranes. Four major threats are discussed: dams and water diversions, agriculture development, crane trade, and climate change. Conservation efforts should be strongly science-based, reduce direct threats to the birds, safeguard or restore habitat, and strengthen awareness among decision makers and local communities for how to safeguard cranes and wetlands. Especially for the most severely threatened species, significantly stronger efforts will be needed to incorporate our understanding of the needs of cranes and the ecosystems they inhabit into decisions about agriculture, water management, energy development and other human activities.
doi:10.5122/cbirds.2013.0025 fatcat:m65t2eopsrebbpvytyufzcyrjm