Namibia Crane News No 57 (September 2018)

Dear Crane Friends

Hope this finds you well! This issue brings you another update of crane news in Namibia.

This year we were fortunate in being able to conduct two crane censuses: a wet-season ground survey from 15-18 March 2018, with a count of 16 adults/subadults and four chicks (two from a second clutch) and one Wattled Crane (at Fischer’s Pan); and a dry-season combined aerial and ground survey from 6-9 August 2018, which yielded only two Blue Cranes (at Andoni) but a record count of 26 Crowned Cranes in the Omadhiya Lakes area. We are still working on the maximum of 32 Blue Cranes, recorded at Andoni in September 2017.

The key questions that remain are: what are the specific reasons for the long term decline in Blue Crane numbers, where is this happening and how can the causes be addressed? It is considered that satellite telemetry may still be the best way to reveal the population sink, and we are currently following up on some exciting opportunities in this regard.

The second part of the newsletter (from page 5 onwards) consists of detailed records of sightings and photographs of cranes made over the past months. Thank you 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 and supporters 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. For our August 2018 aerial survey, we are indebted to Westair Aviation (Pty) Ltd for the use of a Cessna 182 plane, made available for conservation  through the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE); the Mokuti Etosha Lodge and Ongava Lodge for landing facilities; and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for logistical assistance, aircraft fuel and accommodation. A special thank you to our pilot Nad Brain, and to Hanjo Böhme for his unstinting efforts in arranging the logistics and making this survey possible!

Best wishes

Ann & Mike