Britain’s wild cranes are finding their way back in the country’s waterways and wetlands after they have been extinct for over 400 years. Due to conservation efforts that started in 1979, the common cranes are now up to 200 in the country.
It is always great to get the opportunity to celebrate a real conservation success story and UK cranes are one of these.Andrew Stanbury, a Conservation Scientist
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in collaboration with Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust have created The Great Crane Project that is focused on transporting birds from Germany into breeding sites in Britain.
The common crane was wiped out in the UK through wetland loss and hunting. Conservation groups and governments are implementing strict protections on the ecosystems. 93 birds were transported into southwest England between the years 2010 and 2014.
The most recent survey recorded 64 breeding pairs across the United Kingdom in 2020. The WWT estimated that with the present rate of reproduction, cranes would reach 275 breeding pairs in the next 50 years.
Unidentified cranes that were very rare in the Somerset Moors breeding site are now being seen regularly and they even mate with resident birds that have tracking rings around their legs.
This is a sign that there is genetic biodiversity in the new UK cranes and this ensures that they remain resistant to disease and genetic defects. The next challenge is ensuring there is sufficient wetland available for Britain’s wild cranes to breed safely.