Client: Kwa-Zulu Natal Crane Foundation
Architect: Elements Architecture & Design
Project Manager & Principal Agent: Ian Dickson, ID Investments
Structural Engineer: Kantey and Templer Consulting Engineers
Contractor: Riddle Construction
The Wattled Crane isolation-rearing facility or nursery at the Bill Barnes Crane and Oribi Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, was commitioned by the KwaZulu-Natal Crane Foundation (KZN Crane Foundation) in 2012 to prevent this graceful creature from extinction, as its natural habitat of wetlands and grasslands are becoming more and more under threat in South Africa.
The reserve is managed by the KZN Crane Foundation, a partner of the Wattled Crane Recovery Programme which aims to prevent extinction through ecosystem preservation, research, captive breeding and the eventual release of crane chicks to supplement existing wild flocks.
Wattled Cranes are the rarest crane in Africa and currently listed as Critically Endangered in SA. Previously they could be found throughout much of the country, but today only a few hundred remain, mostly in isolated pockets of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
The Wattled Crane chicks area being isolation-reared by costumed human caretakers, dressed in crane costumes and using life-like puppets imitating adult crane behaviour, to teach the young chicks the skills they need to survive in the wild.
Once the birds are old enough, they are moved to a wetland pen where they are taught to roost in water to avoid being attacked by predators at night. Finally they are released into wild Wattled Crane flocks. Although the chicks are raised by humans, it is vital that they are kept completely separate from their surrogate parents to prevent imprinting, so they can be fully integrated into the wild.