The International Crane Foundation
Last weekend while at the Whooping Crane Festival, we took a drive down to Baraboo, Wisconsin to visit the International Crane Foundation site. We also had the privilege of hearing one of it's founders, Dr. George Archibald, speak at the festival. He is an amazing, brilliant man who, with his friend and colleague, Dr. Ron Saury formed the ICF out of their mutual love of cranes and commitment to education, research and diplomacy as a means to achieve conservation of all crane species. Through their foundation much has been accomplished throughout the world to protect and restore ecosystems shared by people and the cranes of the world. The success stories of many of the remaining flocks of endangered cranes can be attributed to the compromises designed by the ICF with the people who share their world with the cranes. If you love our natural world, you will admire the work of these two accomplished men and their Foundation.
On their site in Baraboo, they have pairs of all 15 of the crane species and are instrumental in providing research and support to aid in worldwide programs including Operation Migration (last weeks post) which is nurturing the growth of a new Whooping Crane Flock that will help guarantee their survival. The Whooping Crane numbers were down to 22, (1941) in the only known natural wild flock, before measures were taken to save them. Today there are just over 600 Whooping Cranes (wild and captive). The wild flock's breeding area in Aransas, Alaska and their winter marshes in Texes are at high risk of pollution and depletion because of man's close proximaty. That makes the second flock essential to the continued existance of the Whoopers.
For more information on the International Crane Foundation, click on the link at the top of this post. Foundations such as these depend greatly on donations and grants. They also look for interested and trained people to share in their quest. These doors are open to all of you ... be my guest today :)
I can't possibly share pictures of all 15 crane species in one post so I will pick a few and save others for another post. It seems only natural, since you saw the Whoopers in flight last week, to start with the pair at ICF.
The area housing the Whooping cranes is designed to mimic their natural habitat. They have the same food and conditions they would find in the wild.
The females are banded on the left leg and the males on the right, for future reference :)
Ohh, what big feet you have, my dear ...
Black Crowned Cranes (Balearica pavonina)
One of the most striking of the cranes is also the ancestor of Crowned Cranes that lived 55 -33 million years ago. Now they live only in the warmer regions of Central and South Africa. There are two subspecies of Black Crowned Cranes in addition to a Grey Crowned Crane (also in Africa). They are the only modern cranes that still have a usable long, grasping hind toe(halux) that allows them to roost in trees.
This Crane faces natural ( droughts) and man made (wetlands degradation and pollution with fertilizers, industrial wastes and DDT which is still used in there area) threats. They are also often caught in the cross-fires of human strife and political wars so their future is tenuous at best.