Grey Crowned Crane is Uganda’s National Symbol
Uganda is the best place to see magnificent Grey Crowned Crane called simply “Crested Crane”
The Grey Crowned Crane is the National Bird of Uganda. It is scientifically known as Balearica regulorum gibbericeps. The Crested Crane, as it is known in Uganda, was chosen as the national emblem because of its beauty and elegance.
The Grey Crowned Crane is a bird of national significance to Uganda, occupying a prime position on the Country’s national flag and coat of arms. The Crested Crane has been Uganda’s symbol for nearly 100 years.
The Gray Crowned Crane is a most beautiful bird. The tall bird stands well over three feet, on long-slender black legs. Its neck is almost as long as its legs and towards the base. Its pointed pearl-grey feathers are elongated to form an ornamental fringe.
The tail feathers, comparatively short, are the color of dried straw. When at rest, the Crowned Crane seems to be enveloped in a cape of exquisite delicacy with its multi-colored head where the three colors of Uganda’s Flag (Black, Yellow, Red) seem to be represented. The conspicuous velvety black forehead, yellowish crest, and the vivid bright red wattles make the Crested Crane an elegant creature, befitting its symbolic role as the National Bird.
The three colors are representative of African peoples (black), Africa’s sunshine (yellow), and African brotherhood (red being the color of blood, through which all Africans are connected).
The grey crowned crane is fabled for its gentle nature and was also the military badge of Ugandan soldiers when Uganda was a British Protectorate. The raised legs of the crane symbolize the forward movement of the Country.
The Grey-crowned Crane of Uganda – one of the most beautiful and majestic birds in Africa, found in Uganda. This beautiful bird moves in grace in a most stately way with a very dignified gate. If you see the grey crowned crane in flight, it is simply beautiful to behold with its slow down strokes of the wings followed by quick flicking upward strokes.
The grey crowned cranes have a crest crown made up of stiff golden feathers – the sounds of the crested cranes can be heard over a vast distance. Crested Cranes use their substantial bills to dig into the soil in search of roots and bulbs beneath the surface of the ground. One of the most beautiful to behold is the gray crowned crested cranes very elaborate mating ritual.
The Mating Dance of the Grey Crowned Cranes is a most beautiful display of grace, strength, and power. Amazing those who have the privilege to view this ritual as the court their lifelong partners and the courting dance is not a one-time event for a pair of cranes – it continues throughout their relationship.
At one time, there were over 50,000 gray crowned crested cranes found in Uganda to the present number of 20,000. This is due to the elimination of their habitats, which often border various wetlands. Encroachment, land converted to farming, villagers building their homes where the Crested Crane formerly dwelt all have resulted in lower numbers of grey crowned crested cranes in Uganda. Even though it is a crime to harm one – since it is the symbol of a Nation – the Pearl of Africa – Uganda, the Grey Crowned Crane’s existence is threatened.
Not only is the Grey Crowned Crane diminishing in numbers due to encroachment but the wrong beliefs by witch doctors also called traditional healers in Africa, on top of that there are commercial poachers that keep contributing to the decline of the birds in Uganda.
Dead Cranes can be found in the shrines of these witch doctors. The witch doctors believe that because the crested cranes mate for life, consuming their eggs would pass on that quality.
Love potions made up of various crested crane parts will keep a relationship together the crested crane is also seen as a good sign to keep evil spirits away from children. Efforts are now underway to change such a wrong mindset about the gray crested crane, protect various habitats, and hopefully, the crested crane will be much more than a symbol on the flag of Uganda.
A local Ugandan TV report on NTV Eco Talk regarding the Grey Crowned Crane