The Crane Specialist Group in Australia

Crane Specialist

The Crane Specialist Group (CSG) is an international network of specialists on crane research and conservation convened by the International Crane Foundation, for the Species Survival Commission (Wetlands International/ IUCN).

The Australian members are John D A Grant, Inka Veltheim, Tim Nevard and Elinor Scambler. The CSG recently initiated a full status and conservation review for all crane species, to be published during 2017. Dr K S Gopi Sundar, Director of Program SarusScape, led the reviews for Sarus Crane and Brolga, with all Australian members contributing. Inka Veltheim was lead author for the Brolga account. The last international review of Brolga and Australian Sarus status was in 1996 and can be downloaded from the IUCN Library (pdf 8MB: Meine and Archibald 1996, covering status and conservation for all 15 world crane species).

Introducing the Australian members...

Dr John D A Grant

John Grant

John is a professional zoologist who studied in Dublin, then at A.N.U. after moving to Australia in 1983. He works in teaching and research, with a particular interest in Sarus Cranes. He has been studying the recruitment rate and feeding substrates in the wintering population of Sarus on the Atherton Tablelands since 1997. Both studies have reached the significant stage of 20 years of survey data, and writing is in progress. John's other work includes Sarus breeding ecology in the seasonal Gulf of Carpentaria wetlands and the maturation stages for Australian Sarus.

John is also an accomplished wildlife artist with recent successful exhibitions. The whole natural world has inspired John's art as well as his science – ‘Surrounded by the rainforests, wetlands and savannahs of north Queensland, and within easy reach of Papua New Guinea and the islands of the southwest Pacific, I am in awe of the extravagant diversity of the Australasian realm, and infatuated by its ornithological oddities and mysteries’.

John Grant on Ozcranes:

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Inka Veltheim

Inka Veltheim

Inka and part of her study population

Inka completed Zoology Honours in 1999 at the University of Melbourne, writing her thesis on the foraging patterns and microhabitat use of the long-nosed potoroo. She is now writing up her PhD study with Federation University (Ballarat, Victoria) and the Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group (Melbourne University), on the movements, habitat use and population ecology of Brolga in south west Victoria, where extensive wind farm developments may present additional challenges to a population already threatened by habitat loss and change, and fox predation. Data on survival and other population parameters from the study will be used to refine a population viability analysis developed by Melbourne University, used by a specialist panel to advise environmental impact reviews.

Inka hopes for a long-term future with cranes including a visit to India, more banding and satellite tracking of Brolgas, spatial analysis of Brolga habitat Australia-wide, and landholder engagement in wetland health. Earlier in her career Inka played drums for a punk band but with such an extensive wish list for future crane work, her music may need to take a back seat...

Inka Veltheim Links:

Tim Nevard

Tim Nevard

Tim measuring a Sarus Crane

Tim's background in nature conservation includes working with a range of NGOs, government bodies and fellow conservationists to establish the Mareeba Wetlands and Wildlife Conservancy of Tropical Queensland in Australia, and the Great Crane Project in the UK (links below). The Mareeba Wetlands was only the second known dry season roost site in north Queensland to host both Brolgas and Sarus Cranes, and was a founding site in the long term North Queensland Crane Count» study.

Tim is undertaking a PhD study with Charles Darwin University on the ecological, behavioural and genetic interactions between Brolgas and Sarus Cranes, and conservation management implications. Fieldwork is based on the Atherton Tablelands and in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and includes genetic studies of hybridisation between Australia's two crane species, first reported by crane researcher Dr George Archibald of the International Crane Foundation. Tim acts as the ‘Guardian’ for the Atherton Tablelands Key Biodiversity Area», trigger species Sarus Crane.

Tim Nevard Links:

Elinor C. Scambler

Elinor Scambler

Elinor Scambler at Bromfield Swamp roost

Elinor studied Economics Honours at Monash and later completed a Graduate Certificate in Ornithology at Charles Sturt University. In the early 1990s she became interested in the history of Sarus Cranes in north Queensland when studying bird recruitment to a waterside revegetation site. The changed habitat attracted forest birds but excluded Sarus Cranes from one of the first roost and feeding sites identified on the Atherton Tablelands. In 1997 she designed and led to 2008, the first systematic count of Australian Sarus as an annual volunteer project with BirdLife Australia, writing is in progress.

In 2004 she began the Australian Crane Network, designed and built the Ozcranes website, and continues as web manager and editor. Research-related articles written for Ozcranes include Burning for Brolgas» and Goodbye Sarus?».

Side interests are web design using Web Standards and Crane art in all its many forms...

Elinor Scambler on Ozcranes:

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Program SarusScape is a collaboration for cranes, wetlands and people, between the International Crane Foundation and Nature Conservation Foundation India. A number of abstracts from Program Sarusscape research can be read on Ozcranes»

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