The grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum) is currently on the IUCN red list, classified as endangered. As one of the 15 different species of crane, the crowned crane is the most ancient, predating its cousins by tens of millions of years. It also features as the national bird of Uganda.
The main risk facing these birds is, of course, humans, with widespread poaching and illegal trade mainly due to the belief their eggs and feathers have medicinal properties as well as people keeping them as pets.
This footage was captured by WildEearth’s SafariLive show who stream live safaris every day from Greater Kruger, East Africa and other reserves. Tayla McCurdy, the presenter, narrates the experience:
“I cannot say for sure if this is a male or female crowned crane, as both genders sit on the nest during breeding season. The crane jumped to the defence of the unborn chicks, as the mother took on the elephants!”
“The elephant seemed rather bemused by the situation and remained curious as to why the bird was flapping its wings. Various alarm calls did, in fact, seem to work at the beginning, as the bird kept launching forward, flapping wings and calling in defence of its nest. Eventually, the elephant became rather irritated and tried to push the bird away with its trunk before wandering off, leaving the eggs unharmed.”
“The bird, seemingly relaxed, then turned its attention to a baby elephant calf grazing nearby, as soon as it tried to charge for the calf, the 1st young elephant trumpeted a warning call and paced quickly in the direction of the calf. The crowned crane moved off, realizing that there was no longer any danger, leaving the elephant to graze peacefully but keeping a close eye.”