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9 June 2023 Using Local Ecological Knowledge to Inform Grey Crowned Crane Distribution and Status in Tanzania
Bridget B. Amulike, Curtice R. Griffin, Todd K. Fuller
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Grey Crowned Cranes (Balearica regulorum), an endangered species that occurs throughout eastern and south-central Africa, are generally well-protected within national parks but commonly occur outside protected areas where the landscape is largely used for agriculture, settlement, and grazing. Understanding a species' distribution and collecting information on its presence from people who have long-standing interactions in an area of interest (i.e. local ecological knowledge) can be cost-effective for conservation. Thus, during February–December 2015, we gathered local knowledge from villagers to help inform Grey Crowned Crane status, distribution, breeding, and seasonal habitat use outside protected areas in Tanzania. Via 560 in-person surveys in 41 villages, local people identified 46 locations where they reported seeing cranes. In two regions, the proportion of crane observations by local people was higher in the wet season than the dry season, but in two others the proportion of crane observations were high in both seasons. Little evidence of crane breeding was reported, but a high proportion of local people in the Kilimanjaro region reported seeing crane chicks relative to the other regions. We modelled the influence of land-cover types and demographic variables on the number of people who reported seeing Grey Crowned Cranes in their wards (subunits of regions). Residents were more likely to see cranes in areas that were less populated by people with few human activities. An increase in grassland habitats in a ward increased the chances of people sighting cranes. While seasonal wetlands are important crane habitats, the model indicated a negative relationship between number of people seeing cranes and the percentage of wetlands in their wards; this may be due to the occurrence of degraded (unsuitable) wetlands. Local knowledge can provide insights into species' distribution and ecology, but there is a need for more field monitoring of cranes.

Bridget B. Amulike, Curtice R. Griffin, and Todd K. Fuller "Using Local Ecological Knowledge to Inform Grey Crowned Crane Distribution and Status in Tanzania," African Journal of Wildlife Research 53(1), (9 June 2023).
Received: 29 September 2022; Accepted: 17 May 2023; Published: 9 June 2023
Balearica regulorum
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