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Amulike, Bridget B.

Program: PhD – Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation

Support: International Crane FoundationBridget Amulike

Project Summary

Most wildlife studies in East Africa have centered their efforts towards the conservation and protection of large charismatic wildlife species, such as elephants, lions, cheetahs, and rhinos.  Unfortunately, “lesser species,” such as grey crowned cranes (Balearica regulorum) generally have received much less conservation attention.  As recently as 1990, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified the grey crowned crane as a species of least concern. Yet as of 2012, the IUCN classified the grey crowned crane as endangered (Birdlife International, 2013), and the species was listed on Appendix II of CITES in 2010. Recently, Morrison and Baker (2012) reported that grey crowned crane populations have declined by 60% -79% over the past four decades in East Africa. Further, these declines have occurred within core areas of the species’ historic distribution—Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. The largest decline was in Tanzania with more than a 79% decline. Birdlife International (2013) reports that habitat loss and illegal trade are the primary causes for declines in grey crowned crane populations in East Africa. Yet, illegal trade is considered a major problem (George and Meine, 1996) with most of the illegal trade involving shipping grey crowned cranes from East Africa to Europe, the Middle East and Asia where the birds are in high demand as pets and display in zoos and safari parks.

Despite these large declines, wildlife managers know very little about the specific factors causing the decline of grey crowned cranes in Tanzania. Thus, the primary goals of my research are to 1) determine the factors causing the population declines of grey crowned cranes in Tanzania, and 2) develop management strategies and conservation policies that can be implemented to better conserve this species. I plan to assess the extent of legal and illegal trade; survey crane numbers; identify the habitats used by cranes, and evaluate the effects of different land use practices on crane populations in northern Tanzania. Ultimately, I want my research to inform more stringent wildlife policy development, contribute to strengthening laws that guide wildlife trade, and promote conservation of wetland and grassland habitats that are critical for sustaining grey crowned crane populations.


BirdLife International 2012. Balearica regulorum. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <>. Downloaded on 04 January 2013.

Meine CD, Archibald GW. 1996. The cranes: status survey and conservation action plan. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

Morrison, K and Baker, N (2012). Grey Crowned Cranes in peril – A status review and threat assessment. Pan African Ornithological Conference, Arusha, Tanzania.


Amulike, B., S. S. Stevens, and T. L. Serfass. Accepted.  Enhancing tourist opportunities to view spotted-necked otters (Lutra maculicollis) at Rubondo Island National Park: can the apriori location of latrines simplify identifying best viewing areas?  African Journal of Ecology:xx-xx-xx.

Stevens, S. S, B. Amulike, S. R. Ndaga,  J. F. Organ, T, L. Serfass,.  2009.  Raising support for Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania: considerations and approaches for an assessment of potential flagship species.  Pages 471-486 in J. D. Keyyu, V.  Kakengi, M. Musha, J. Ntalilwa, E. Kohi, J. Kimaro, and A. Mwakatobe, Editors.  Proceedings of the Seventh TAWIRI Scientific Conference. Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Arusha, Tanzania.



Page updated: April 2, 2014