WILDLIFE: Why the grey crested crane faces uncertain future

The grey crested Carne arriving home to Roost, Lomanira Village, Mogotio Location, Baringo County. PHOTO/Jeremiah Chamakany, The Scholar Media Africa.

Among the fifteen crane species in the world today, the Grey Crested crown is the only one that roosts on trees.

In Baringo County, the birds have found a home in a private farm within Mogotio Sub–county.

In science, they call them the Balearica Regulorum.

Every sun set in Mogotio is unique in the sense that if you are a visitor in the region, you are likely to see a cloud that keeps on growing bigger and bigger.

You then realize to your own amazement, countless birds are flying in a formation towards your field of view.

They are arriving home to roost.

They are like B52 bombers returning home after a successful Mission.

The birds leave Lomanira village each dawn to look for food in as far as Lake Solai.

No Lomanira local knows where the birds breed or lay their eggs.

This is the endangered Grey Crested Crane; according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A study conducted in the year 2012 by the same authority found heart breaking realities.

It revealed that only 77,000 birds of this species remain in the whole world, and their numbers are falling at a fast rate.

This is mainly due to destruction of their habitats, wetland drainage for agriculture, pesticide pollution among other causes.

In 1987, Kenya boasted of about 35,000 Grey Crested Cranes.

But in a recent census carried out by the National Museums of Kenya in partnership with Germany’s Nature and Bio Diversity Conservation, it was established that the figure has fallen to only about 10,000 Grey Crested cranes.

Very soon in our lifetime, the Grey Crested Crane may disappear from the face of the earth forever, the report said.

Baringo County is at least giving the bird a place to sleep.

Now which county will provide the bird with her food and nesting grounds?

During sunset in Mogotio, they gracefully lower their ‘landing gear’ as they circle the skies around Loma-Nira Village, finally touching down at the home of an old man Mzee Josephat Kibusia.

Mzee Kibusia, retired teacher prides in the fact that his acacia trees conservation efforts has finally paid off.

They are providing a safe roosting home for the endangered bird.

Some of his acacia trees have already assumed some flat tops; having hosted the birds for not less than ten years.

“I feel very proud that nature itself has appreciated my efforts. Nature is smiling back at me,” he said.

“Acacia trees species in my ten acre piece of land are well protected since the year 1985.

I fenced off the land because it is swampy during rainy seasons and as a result, the tall acacia tree species thrived.”

He went on: “I’m proud that the crane, which are sacred birds in my Kalenjin tribe have chosen my trees because no one disturbs them.

This gives me a lot of joy and reason to enjoy life on earth.”

Kibusia told The Scholar Media Africa that he is considering the possibility of turning part of his land into a conservation area for the grey crested crane, and other wildlife that have since thrived due to the serenity provided for by tall trees.

In the presence of these beautiful birds, nothing really adds more spice to life than a distant honk of a crane during the quiet Mogotio nights.

Life is just good with the birds around.

Many locals around Lomanira village love the omnivorous birds.

The birds occasionally appear at their door steps, stamping their feet on the ground on their forward march for food.

Their daily search for delicacies brings them closer to humans but they fly away immediately at the sight of an approaching bipedal or a dog.

Local administrator Lawrence Cheburet lauds the locals for appreciating the birds.

He says that in his public barazas in the area, he never fails to address the importance of taking care of trees and even planting more.

”National Parks and reserves are not the only places that can conserve wild life; private farms can also do very well in conserving wildlife.

More awareness is needed to ensure that every citizen contributes to this conservation endeavor,” said the administrator.

He added that for the last ten years or more, these birds have been coming to his sub-location to ‘spend the night’.

They leave every morning to look for food.

”I don’t know where they go and find food but I guess it could be the nearby Lake Solai, not very far from here.

That can be only an half hour or less flight for the big energetic bird,” said the administrator.

He added that the presence of the grey crested crane in his area of jurisdiction is great pride.

‘’Children have the opportunity to marvel at the birds.

The birds do sometimes ‘graze’ among livestock in the open farms and even the nearby school playing ground,” said the administrator.

He expounded that the birds are harmless since there has never been a conflict between the farmers and them.

All around the world the crane is celebrated as a bird of beauty.

Her elaborate dances and courtship rituals can never be challenged even by humans.

In the neighboring Uganda; the grey crested crane is a symbol of national pride.

The same applies in Tanzania and in Asian Countries where this bird is embraced as a symbol of eternal youthfulness.

Without showing any signs of old age like humans do, the bird which can live up to 30 years in the wild always looks beautiful, can dance gracefully up to her last day on earth but only if we can make a choice to conserve and protect her habitat!

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