Rampant Killing Of Crested Cranes Upsets Conservation Campaign In Lwengo

Gilbert Tayebwa, the ICF South-Central Uganda Crane Conservation-Program Officer, says that Lwengo is one of the largest breeding colonies for the cranes but several have been encroached on by the farmers and bricklayers.
Grey Crown Crested Crane

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The International Crane Foundation (ICF), a Conservation organisation has expressed concern about the rate at which crested cranes are trapped and killed in Lwengo district.  

According to ICF, the uncontrolled hunting, eating and killing of the precious national emblem is frustrating the ongoing campaign to protect the Crested Cranes from extinction. Gilbert Tayebwa, the ICF South-Central Uganda Crane Conservation-Program Officer, says that Lwengo is one of the largest breeding colonies for the cranes but several have been encroached on by the farmers and bricklayers. 

He further notes that the death toll of the Crested cranes keeps rising from one planting season to another since farmers poison the cranes to protect their crops. Tayebewa noted that 108 crested cranes were poisoned and several eggs destroyed in the last six months. In March 2021, the same organisation reported the poisoning of 60 crested cranes in addition to 48 others killed in the September planting season. 

According to Tayebwa, they are engaging different communities in crane conservation to

protect the endangered birds from extinction.


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ICF’s September 2021 Baseline survey indicates that all wetlands in Kyazanga, Kyazanga, Katovu Kinoni, Lwengo Town Councils, plus Lwengo rural, Malongo, Kisekka, Kkingo, and Ndagwe sub-counties have been encroached on with little intervention from the district to evict the farmers.    

He notes that they have brought on board 90 crane custodians to sensitise their respective communities about the importance of the cranes. Tobias Kayemba, one of the crane custodians, says Kiyanja wetland has greatly been encroached on and the breeding colonies of the crested cranes destroyed. 

Apart from poisoning the cranes, Kayemba explains that the birds are hunted for economic purposes while some people have started eating them.


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Dr. Adalbert Ainomuchunguzi, the ICF Regional Manager (East Africa), explains that the Uganda crested crane is so far the most endangered species in Africa and it may soon been extinct if nothing is done to protect them.


He says that being a national symbol, the precious national emblem is protected under

Uganda Wildlife (UWA) Act 2019 but people have refused to respect it. 

He notes that any person who hunts, traps, kills, sells or even buys the crane

commits an offence and upon conviction, the culprit can be liable to a fine or

life imprisonment or both according to the discretion of the court.


In 2013, he explained, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

put the crested crane among the most endangered species, which need special conservation.

However, Marry Jude Namulema, the Lwengo District Environment Officer, attributes the problem to lack of funds for close monitoring of the wetlands and to evict encroachers.


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According to the ICF’s September baseline survey, there are 1,359 crested cranes in Lwengo district.


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