Win­dow on life of SA’S cranes

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - KWANDOKUHLE NJOLI [email protected] Cranes of South Africa The Sen­tinels –

PA­TIENCE is a vi­tal at­tribute for any wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher and Daniel Dolpire had to have it in bucket loads when he de­cided to cap­ture the cranes of South Africa.

Dolpire’s pho­to­graphic jour­ney, which started five years ago, has re­sulted in a book,

and fea­tures the Blue Crane, the Wat­tled Crane and the Grey Crowned Crane species. He teamed up with lo­cal or­nithol­o­gist David Al­lan, who has been the cu­ra­tor of birds at the Dur­ban Nat­u­ral Mu­seum for 22 years.

In 2013 Dolpire set off on his pas­sion-driven odyssey and was im­me­di­ately en­thralled.

Of­ten ris­ing long be­fore dawn and fin­ish­ing a shoot af­ter sun­set, Dolpire has cap­tured tens of thou­sands of im­ages and trav­elled thou­sands of kilo­me­tres.

“The best time to pho­to­graph wildlife is in the early morn­ing and late af­ter­noon. Pho­tograph­ing cranes at roost sites al­ways pre­sented a prob­lem as the birds would typ­i­cally fly off be­fore the sun was up and come in to roost af­ter the sun had set. Pa­tience is a pho­tog­ra­pher’s most valu­able at­tribute, as get­ting the right im­ages is a wait­ing game that can stretch over hours,” he said.

The book pro­vides a map iden­ti­fy­ing the best places and times of years to see the cranes.

It de­scribes how wet­lands work and there is a chap­ter that fea­tures the con­ser­va­tion project run by the Kwazulu-natal Crane Foun­da­tion in rear­ing the Wat­tled Cranes in cap­tiv­ity. The long-term goal of the project is to re-in­tro­duce the cap­tive reared Wat­tled Cranes into the wild to help bol­ster the num­bers of the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species.

Dolpire said cranes acted as sen­tinels in­di­cat­ing the fragility and health of our nat­u­ral re­sources, par­tic­u­larly wet­lands and wa­ter catch­ments.

“The sen­tinels pro­vide in­sight into the frag­ile, threat­ened life of cranes and their habi­tats – a world that we need to pro­tect,” he added.

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