Crane Wisdom Inspires The Midlands

notties feature blue cranes dancing

David Wheildon’s painting of dancing Blue Cranes.

Wisdom Tales – Crane Stories from Southern Africa, a book celebrating the ethos of cranes was launched recently by the KZN Crane Foundation (KZNCF). The enchanting tales are beautifully illustrated by David Wheildon Oosthuizen. Jenny Stipcich, lead author, said “My love affair with cranes began when I met the remarkable Ann Burke and realised how our three South African cranes could be used as inspiration for learning about good values.” David concurred “I am ashamed that I did not even know we had three crane species and it took an American woman (Ann) to teach me about them!”

Ann (Project Manager KZNCF) responded by saying that the book is the result of long standing collective caring for these birds of the Midlands, since the establishment of the KZN Crane Foundation 24 years ago. “I believe this is due to recognition that cranes have lived with us for thousands of years – since we were hunters and gatherers and nowadays alongside us in human-transformed agricultural landscapes. When we spend time getting to know the cranes, we discover a deep-rooted respect for their beauty and grace and we begin to understand that cranes reflect some of our most valued human qualities –including parental nurturing and care, faithfulness to our partners and our children, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.”

This respectful understanding inspired the N3Toll Concession to provide KZNCF with the major funding for the creation and publication of this book.

Continuing the celebration, In ART Gallery in Nottingham Road will host the Spirit of the Crane Art Exhibition from 12 – 22 September. Hilary Grant Curie, Owner and Curator said, “When my husband and I first moved to Nottingham Road, I heard about the work of the KZNCF and their efforts to build a Nursery to rear endangered Wattled Crane chicks. I can remember flocks of Blue Cranes sharing the veld with my father’s cattle. It was a common sight and annual occurrence…. It saddens me that this is something my own children will likely never experience.”

The KZNCF is currently constructing a Nursery to rear critically endangered Wattled Crane chicks for release into the wild in an effort to bolster South Africa’s remaining wild flock of 260 individuals. For the past 30 years, conservationists in North America have successfully released human-reared cranes into the wild using a technique called “costume-rearing.” This technique, consisting of human caretakers dressed in costumes and puppets, will be used to encourage young cranes to obtain skills necessary for survival in the wild. The Nursery is situated on the Bill Barnes Nature Reserve in Nottingham Road. The first chicks are expected in 2014. Proceeds from the Spirit of the Crane Art Exhibition will go towards the completion of the Nursery.

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