The Grey Crowned Crane is widely known not only for its golden crest but its height. It is a mysterious, majestic bird that is mostly found in the wetlands where it lays its eggs, as well as near lakes and ponds in the Rift Valley. However, it roosts on tall trees and in the marshes.
Currently, Kenya holds the largest population of the Grey Crowned Crane in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Lake Ol Bolossat, a lake on the foothills of the Aberdare Ranges in central Kenya is home to 900 Grey Crowned Cranes. It is listed as one of the Important Bird Areas (IBA) in the world. Currently, there are at least 12,000 IBAs worldwide that have been chosen by BirdLife International based on certain criteria that they each meet.
The breeding season for the Grey Crowned Crane is between July and February. During this time, hundreds of cranes flock at Lake Ol Bolossat, displaying courtship dances that are unique only to them.
In the past, Grey Crowned Cranes have been in danger of extinction due to human interference in their environment. Migratory birds would die after collisions with power lines because they weren’t visible to them. There’s also been a call for enforced bans on captive cranes and harmful pesticides that have caused the death of lions and vultures in the past and could also lead to the death of these cranes.
The wetlands, the habitat of the crane is also either being burned or drained and grasslands are being converted to agricultural landscapes, while forests that feed wetlands with water are being stripped. This has caused a major decline in the number of cranes in Africa in the last decade.
Nevertheless, South Africa has found a solution to the problem. Rerouting their power lines and making them visible has highly increased their crane population by 46% in the last 11 years. This is something that Kenya hopes to implement as well, in the hopes that it will bring them similar results in the years to come and help them maintain their position as the African country with the highest population of these majestic birds.
For now, however, we are working on keeping track of the Grey Crowned Cranes that we have and are making sure that their habitats are well taken care of.
If you’d like to see the Grey Crowned Cranes, visit Lake Ol Bolossat. It is located between the Aberdare Ranges and Dundori Ridge and is a 4-hour drive from Nairobi via A104.
For accommodation close to the lake, try either Kichakani Paradise or Samawati Lakeside Cottages. They are both fairly close to the lake.
As of now, Lake Ol Bolossat is a protected lake and is, therefore, open to the public. Plan your trip somewhere between July and February, when the cranes flock to the lake in large numbers. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a glimpse of hippos during your visit.
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