Bridget AmulikeBridget Amulike

PhD Student, Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation


Advisors: Curtice Griffin, Todd Fuller

Gray crowned crane ecology conservation in Tanzania

Most wildlife studies in East Africa have focused efforts on the conservation of large charismatic wildlife species, such as elephants, big cats, and rhinos, and unfortunately “lesser species”, such as grey crowned cranes (Balearica regulorum), generally have received much less attention.  As recently as 1990, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified the grey crowned crane as a species of least concern, but in 2010 the species was listed on Appendix II of CITES and in 2012 the IUCN classified the grey crowned crane as endangered because populations have declined by 60-79% over the past four decades. Further, these declines have occurred within core areas of the species’ historic distribution (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda), with the largest decline in Tanzania. Habitat loss and illegal trade have been the primary causes for declines, and illegal trade is still considered a major problem, 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 distribution, population levels, and the specific factors causing the decline of grey crowned cranes in Tanzania. Thus, the primary goals of my research are to: 1) estimate the distribution and population abundance of grey crowned cranes in selected regions of Tanzania, 2) identify factors causing population declines of grey crowned cranes, and 3) develop management strategies that can be implemented to better conserve this species. 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.


  • International Crane Foundation


Amulike, B., S.S. Stevens, and T.L. Serfass. 2013.  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 51:609–617.

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.