Thursday, June 23, 2011

International Crane Foundation: Tall, lanky & in need of help

I am incredibly lucky and have worked among 12 of the 15 crane species globally within zoos and have seen another species flying free occasionally.  Given my tremendous love of cranes, I know the amazing crane work done at the International Crane Foundation (ICF) because they do most global crane conservation work.  George Archibald and Ron Sauey formed ICF during the early 1970's to promote crane conservation through research, education, habitat protection, captive breeding, and releasing captive bred birds into protected wild areas.  ICF have done an outstanding job through all those areas.

ICF started through crane procurement and researching captive breeding techniques.  Many species having more permanent pair bonds between mates like cranes have proven difficult to breed at zoos.  ICF brought large crane groups into their facility and researched crane breeding.  Consequently, ICF was the first facility which bred certain crane species and are the only captive facility globally which has had success breeding all 15 crane species (no doubt partly because few if any zoos have held all 15 crane species; nobody else can match ICF's zeal towards cranes).  ICF pioneered many techniques we now use concerning crane breeding, including furthering understanding regarding their captive requirements, successful pair formation, developing artificial insemination techniques, being first to hatch an endangered species from an egg fertilized using frozen semen, and designing chick raising protocols which prevent human imprinting.

Crane captive breeding is only a first step within ICF's strategy- this is so there will be a captive buffer population against extinction.  ICF doesn't only want a large captive crane population however, but also wants large prospering wild populations.  Towards this end ICF successfully increases crane protection globally at crane conservation hotspots.  ICF is currently running more than 20 projects through over 40 countries, so their reach truly is global.

At their Baraboo, WI facility, ICF has a large center which has public crane viewing, and it is there where they do much public education (although ICF also does plenty off site, including through their website).  If you love cranes and are anywhere near Wisconsin you should go see it.  It is probably the only place globally holding all 15 crane species concurrently.  It's a zoo just for cranes!  If you are crane crazy (a craniac?) then this is a must-see.

Possibly ICF's most exciting aspect is their research into successfully releasing cranes back into the wild.  Reintroduction is a main goal and ICF have done an amazing job there.  But ICF could really use your help also, so do support them financially so the invaluable work they have done over almost 40 years can continue and expand.  I do not have enough space here to say all the good things which need saying- their conservation work has been absolutely outstanding and deserves support.

Want to learn more about cranes?  Check out these great books & links:

Cranes: Their Biology, Husbandry, and Conservation by David Ellis, George Gee and Claire Mirande
 Cranes: Their Biology, Husbandry, and Conservation by David Ellis, George Gee, & Claire Mirande.  The most current and complete book concerning cranes available.

Cranes of the World by Paul Johnsgard is an older book and getting harder to find but is full of great information still and is a must for all serious crane fanatics.

Cranes of the World by Lawrence Walkinshaw is also an older book and getting hard to find, but is similarly an excellent and useful source regarding information on cranes.

The Cranes: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan by Curt Meine & George Archibald will give you in-depth information concerning crane conservation globally and can be downloaded from the IUCN's publications page.
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for promoting conservation, loss of any species, such as the Crane, is a loss.