Human population growth and the insidious impact of climate change means that more and more of South Africa’s threatened grassland biome is lost with each passing year. Unless ways can be found to contain this loss, in another generation, there will not be sufficient habitat for cranes to survive in the wild. Our task is to explore creative ways to conserve and expand the available habitat and ensure that our legacy includes a healthy and viable wild crane population.
In 2001, the KZN Crane Foundation established its headquarters at the Usher Conservation Centre near Nottingham Road and joined forces with three conservation-minded adjacent landowners to establish the BBCONR. The reserve protects 450 ha of Drakensberg Moist Foothill Grassland and was one of the first proclaimed under the KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme in 2009. Today, KZNCF's vision is to leverage this unique resource by encouraging other landowners to commit themselves to bio-diversity stewardship on their lands.
We aim to explore all possible avenues to encourage and facilitate the preservation and expansion of crane-friendly grasslands and wetlands by:-
- Making the BBCONR a model for the concept of responsible land stewardship through harmonising the needs of conservation and farming.
- Promoting the adoption of the BBCONR stewardship model by landowners throughout the grassland biome.
- Engaging appropriate government departments and agencies with the aim of better understanding and influencing government policy where it impacts on the grassland biome and the cranes' habitat.
- Exploring the potential for protecting and expanding wetlands through land acquisition or special arrangements with landowners and securing special government concessions or tax breaks for such initiatives.
- Supporting the propagation of farming practices such as “No Till” and research into products which make young maize unpalatable to cranes