Ms Christie Anne Craig1, Ms. Tanya Smith1, Dr. Peter Ryan2
1Endangered Wildlife Trust/ International Crane Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa, 2FitzR Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Blue Cranes (Anthropoides paradiseus) are near endemic to South Africa and are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. In the last century, Blue Cranes have expanded their range westwards, and have established a stronghold population in the cereal farming regions of the Western Cape. This expansion was largely driven by agricultural expansion. Blue Cranes in the west are entirely reliant on crop fields, farm dams, and pastures for their survival. In this way, their fate is inextricably linked to farmers and their land. Farmers are mostly tolerant of cranes but, in some cases, cranes damage crops at the seedling phase and eat fodder out of sheep troughs, leading to conflict and retaliation in some cases. Blue Cranes and farmers exist in a complex socio-ecological system. An interplay between climate and social, cultural, and economic factors drives how farmers manage their land. The Western Cape is predicted to become hotter and drier, a trend which is becoming evident with below average rainfall since 2015. This has had a significant impact on the agricultural sector. Here, we use satellite tracking and interview data to interrogate this socio-ecological system. Satellite trackers on cranes provide us a detailed view of how cranes move and use the landscape in response to external factors. Through interviews with local farmers we explore how they respond to their own set of external factors. These insights help us to understand the resilience of cranes and farmers in the face of climate change.
Christie Craig’s interests span the social and biological sciences. She completed her Masters at the University of Cape Town looking at human-wildlife conflict in Namibian communal farmlands. She is now working with the Endangered Wildlife Trust and University of Cape Town, completing a PhD looking at the viability of Blue Cranes in the Western Cape. Blue Cranes are near endemic to South Africa and are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Blue Cranes in the Western Cape rely on agriculture, to their benefit but also to their demise. The cranes and the farmers exist in a complex socio-ecological system. Christie interrogates the resilience of this system, given climate change and other socio-ecological pressures.