We came across these beautiful Wattled Cranes on safari in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana. With a Conservation Status listing as “Vulnerable,” we were delighted to find a trio wading in a shallow pond.
The largest crane in Africa (and second tallest in the world to the Sarus Crane), Bugeranus carunculatus can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. They are named for the wattles, or fleshy appendages, that hang down from the throat. A five foot tall bird with a wingspan of eight feet, they have a commanding presence.
Wattled cranes prefer to eat aquatic tubers and rhizomes, as well as aquatic insects, snails and amphibians; and are consequently found in marsh-like settings. 90% of foraging is done in shallow waters where they dig vigorously with their long bill.
Our safari vehicle was quiet and solo when we came upon these cranes several hundred feet away. Although we were in this area for a week, we never saw this species again. We were lucky that they stayed for a few minutes and allowed us to admire them.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander