Monitoring of the crane breeding population in Turkey
Two crane species, the Eurasian Crane Grus grus and the Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo, can be found in Turkey. Until recently very little information was available on the crane populations in Turkey. Only in 2008 it was discovered, that not only the nominate subspecies Grus grus grus, but also the subspecies Grus grus archibaldi occurs here.
The Transcaucasian Eurasian Crane is distributed in Central and Eastern Turkey. Most of them are located in Turkey, few pairs in Georgia and very few in Armenia and Iran. The entire population was estimated to 250–300 individuals including 70–80 pairs, before the project started.
In early 2014 the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks of the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, the International Crane Foundation (ICF) and Crane Conservation Germany signed a cooperation agreement. Main goals of the agreement are the monitoring of the breeding population of Grus grus archibaldi in Turkey and to identify their staging and wintering areas. In 2014, 2015 and 2016 joint field work was organized in Germany and Turkey to fulfill this cooperation Project.
Crane Conservation Germany mainly supported the project by their experience with ringing and tagging of cranes, which is necessary to understand the movements and to identify possible wintering areas. In all 3 years altogether 55 different cranes were banded with color rings and some birds were also equipped with GPS transmitters.
In 2015, the Turkish team visited about 35 possible breeding sites in Turkey and found 321 birds of the rare subspecies Grus grus archibaldi, of which 177 cranes were summering individuals.
Grus grus archibaldi differs from the nominate subspecies by the nearly completely black head plate (red in Grus g. grus) and the light yellow eyes (red, orange or yellow in Grus g. grus). Cranes, which are colour banded in Turkey, have a country code of three black rings on their left legs.
In 2016, another joint project „Let's Conserve Our Cranes Together“ was started. This project, realized by the NGO Doğa Araştırmaları Derneği with Crane Conservation Germany as a co-partner, wants to raise the awareness and acceptance of cranes by local people and communities in Turkey. Within the framework of the project, a monitoring network of local stakeholders, especially farmers, was built up and several public-orientated campaigns were organized.