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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Curtice R. Griffin

Second Advisor

Todd K. Fuller

Third Advisor

Peter Houlihan

Subject Categories



Grey-crowned cranes (Balearica regulorum) are listed as endangered and their population throughout Africa has declined by 50% from the period of 1985–2004. The major causes for their population loss are mainly linked to habitat loss and the illegal capture of live birds and collection of their eggs and other parts. Currently, throughout Africa, little has been done to study and protect grey crowned cranes. In this study, I incorporated local people’s knowledge, using survey questionnaires to investigate the distribution of grey crowned cranes in Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Singida, and Mbeya Region in Tanzania. I also investigated the perception and attitudes of local people towards grey crowned cranes. I reviewed the international trade of grey crowned cranes using data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of flora and fauna (CITES) trade database and SpeciesPlus database. I also investigated the variation in seasonal abundance and density of grey crowned cranes in the Ngorongoro Crater (NC), within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). A total of 46 crane locations were identified by the local people and mapped using GIS (Geographical Information System). Overall, the results from attitude and perception studies showed a positive interaction between local people and the cranes. These positive perceptions about cranes in my study area suggest that additional community education about crane conservation would be well received. I discovered discrepancies in the CITES data, signaling major shortcomings of the system and underscoring a critical need to stop all trade in grey crowned cranes and to initiate conservation education programs in rural communities in Tanzania. There were variations in crane numbers in the NC in the wet and dry seasons. The mean densities of cranes were lower in the wet season (2.4/km2) than in the dry season (20.2 cranes/km2). The same applied to abundance estimates, with about 108–133 cranes in the wet season and 362–401 in the dry season. These results likely reflect the concentration of cranes in the dry season in the perennial wetlands of the Crater and reinforce the notion of the Crater being a key seasonal habitat for crane populations in northern Tanzania.


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