NAIROBI PARK DIARY

A crane conference

Threats to their lives abound due to the rapid advancement of mankind

In Summary

• Seeing crowned cranes in the wild is always wonderfully rewarding

A gathering of cranes
A gathering of cranes
Image: GARETH JONES

Walking through the long grass, a large flock of approximately 40 cranes approached a clearing. They looked magnificent together in the late afternoon sun.

Indeed, it is rare to see so many cranes gathered together at the same place. I imagined they were the delegates for the “2019 crane conference”, with the main agenda to discuss challenges and threats to their lives due to the rapid advancement of mankind.

They seemed to be in deep discussion as they walked, with many also seemingly agreeing, with the occasional wise sounding “mahem” sound given almost in unison.

The Ugandan representatives were in agreement on most issues, but still insisted on being called 'crested cranes' due to their elevated national status.

They proposed that the other cranes in Kenya and elsewhere find ways to get caring humans to elevate their status as well, considering they were so well protected in the Nairobi National Park.

All too soon, it appeared the meeting was over, and they all took off together in search of “greener pastures”.

The grey-crowned crane (balearica regulorum) has two sub-species, balearica regulorum gibbericeps in East Africa, also known as the crested crown in Uganda, and balearica regulorum regulorum in South Africa, with slightly different markings mainly on the red part of the face. The rarer black-crowned crane is also closely related to the grey-crowned crane.

Seeing crowned cranes in the wild is always wonderfully rewarding, as their colours are beautiful. They have a varied diet, ranging from grass seeds to insects and lizards and small rodents.

Cranes are endangered in many areas, but thank God the Nairobi National Park is a safe breeding haven with a healthy population. I encourage those who have a keen interest in birds to be on the lookout for crane chicks.