Wattled Crane

(Grus carunculatus)




Facts about this animal

Physical Characteristics: Large grey, black and white bird with a distinct red facial patch and wattles hanging either side of chin. Wattles occur on both sexes and males and females are virtually indistinguishable, although males tend to be a bit larger. Secondary feathers of the wings extend nearly to the ground, giving the appearance of a long tail. Height: 172cm (6 ft) Weight 7.8kg (14lbs)

Habitat: In wetlands, Wattled Cranes feed largely on aquatic vegetation including the tubers and rhizomes of sedges and water lilies. In areas where Wattled cranes make use of agricultural land, the diet may include insects, grains and grass seed.

Breeding: The Wattled Crane is a winter breeding, wetland dependant species. Although breeding activity has been recorded year-round, peak activity occurs between May and August. Pairs are strongly territorial and defend a territory of up to several kilometres in size. Reproductive rates both in situ and ex situ are low. While clutches may consist of one or two eggs, generally only one chick is reared. Incubation is generally 36-40 days. Fledging success is roughly 62%. Juveniles remain with their parents for approximately 12 months, after which time they join a non-breeding floater flock.

Social behaviour: Cranes have very complex social behaviours and body language plays an important role in communication and reproduction. Courtship displays often include leaping, dancing and stick throwing. These displays can last from a few seconds to several minutes.

Threats: Loss of habitat due to degradation of wetlands constitutes the greatest threat to Wattled Cranes. Other threats include poisoning, human disturbance and collisions with power lines.

Class AVES
Suborder GRUES
Name (Scientific) Grus carunculatus
Name (English) Wattled Crane
Name (French) Grue caronculée
Name (German) Klunkerkranich
Name (Spanish) Grulla zarzo
Local names Afrikaans: Lelkraanvoël
seTswana: Mogolodi
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Appendix II (as Grus spp.) Included in AEWA



Photo Copyright by
Sara Hallager at the National Zoo



Range South-central Africa, South Africa, Ethiopia
Habitat Grasslands and wetlands
Wild population 6,000-8,000 individuals (2003) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 236 (112.115.9) are registered by the International studbook (November 2008).

In the Zoo

Wattled Crane


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 17 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Sara Hallager at the National Zoo

Why do zoos keep this animal

Wattled cranes kept in zoological institutions around the world help to serve as a genetic reservoir in the event of catastrophic loss in the wild. Wattled cranes can be difficult to breed in captivity. Fertility, hatching and fledging rates are low compared to other species. Assisted reproduction techniques developed by aviculturist may one day prove useful to the success of supplementation and reintroduction efforts in Africa. Johannesburg Zoo is currently conducting a Wattled Crane Recovery Programme. Second eggs that are abandoned by the parents in the wild are collected for a breeding programme with the eventual aim of releasing the offspring back into the wild. For details, see www.wattledcrane.co.za.