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The Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus), also known as the Stanley Crane and the Paradise Crane, is the national bird of South Africa. This crane is pale blue-gray in colour with a white crown, a pink bill, and long, dark gray wingtip feathers which trail to the ground. Blue Cranes are birds of the dry grassy uplands, usually the pastured grasses of hills, valleys, and plains with a few scattered trees. They prefer areas in the nesting season that have access to both upland and wetland areas, though they feed almost entirely in dry areas.
While it remains common in parts of its historic range, and approx. 26 000 individuals remain, it began a sudden population decline from around 1980 and is now classified as vulnerable.
In the last two decades, the Blue Crane has largely disappeared from the Eastern Cape, Lesotho, and Swaziland. The population in the northern Free State, Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West Province has declined by up to 90%. The majority of the remaining population is in eastern and southern South Africa, with a small and separate population in the Etosha Pan of northern Namibia. The primary causes of the sudden decline of the Blue Crane are human population growth, the conversion of grasslands into commercial tree plantations, and poisoning: deliberate (to protect crops) or accidental (baits intended for other species).
Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisea), Etosha National Park, Namibia, Africa
Nikon D200, Nikkor 80-400 mm, 1/800 sec at f/ 5.6, ISO 200
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Views 820 / Favorited by 4 people / October 13, 2013