Namibia Crane News No 56 (December 2017)

Dear Crane Friends

Hope this finds you well! This issue brings you another update of crane news in Namibia. Apologies for the rather lengthy issue; a large number of crane sightings has built up since the last newsletter.

The newsletter has two parts: firstly a report on our last crane census at Etosha in April 2017, with a final count of 13 adults/subadults. This is slightly lower than the previous year’s wet-season count of 16. However, this year eight chicks were counted, of which six have fledged – a result that is encouraging, compared to only two chicks last year. This is probably a reflection of the relatively wetter conditions during the 2016-2017 summer. We are pleased to report a maximum dry-season count of 32, which is a marked improvement on the count of 23 over the last few years. Hopefully these higher numbers will be sustained.

At last we also have an answer to our questions on Blue Crane genetics. Recent studies by Prof. Paulette Bloomer and her team from the University of Pretoria in South Africa have concluded that:

  • There is a lack of genetic differentiation and sex-biased gene flow between the two populations (i.e. South Africa and Namibia), as well as within the South African population;
  • Indications of subtle population structure were revealed;
  • The Namibian population has a significantly lower level of molecular genetic variation; and
  • The relevance of the study is the finding that the two populations can currently be managed together for conservation purposes.

The second part of the newsletter (from page 6 onwards) consists of detailed records of sightings and photographs of cranes made over the past months. Thank you one and all for your interest and enthusiasm in sharing this information, which makes an invaluable contribution towards piecing together a picture of the cranes’ movements and activities.

We would also like to thank all our donors for their generous contributions, in particular the Hessische Gesellschaft für Ornithologie und Naturschutz e.V. (HGON) in Germany and their associates, Mathias Stein and Barbara Hudec; and the Namibia Nature Foundation for its ongoing support.

Best wishes

Ann & Mike