Anyone in Rwanda who has domesticated a grey crane has until December to return the iconic bird to the wild or face legal action.
This, according to a statement released on Monday by Rwanda Development Board, will serve as the last warning to anyone who poaches, sells and keeps Grey Crowned Cranes at home.
Over the past five years, the RDB has been working with Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA) and other stakeholders to stop the illegal trade and domestic keeping of Grey Crowned Cranes.
“If you still have Grey Crowned Cranes in your garden; this call is to remind you that keeping cranes in captivity is one reason for their decline in numbers. We also want to remind you that it is illegal to keep Grey Crowned Cranes and other wildlife in captivity,” reads the RDB statement.
RDB warns that not only is it illegal to keep wild animals captive, the practice also possesses a public health risk as some wild animals carry diseases that they can transmit to humans.
The public is also reminded that failure to register and return all captive cranes back to the wild will attract legal sanctions as stipulated by the organic law instituting the penal code and the 2008 Ministerial Order establishing the list of protected animals and plant species.
“Anyone who is still involved in poaching or selling cranes will be prosecuted by the existing laws that prohibit such crimes on wildlife. This is your last chance to help us save this species by registering and handing back any crane you might have,” the statement further reads.
A preliminary data of the national crane census released in August by Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA) shows that the number of wild grey-crowned cranes in Rwanda is on the rise compared to the previous years following tangible measures previously taken against illegal trade of the endangered species.
The number has risen to 748 in 2019, from 459 and 487 in 2017 and 2018, respectively, all thanks to the efforts of the community conservation champions.