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 completed a full status and conservation review for all crane species, released in 2019 (see Ozcranes Conservation»). All Australian CSG members were involved in writing and reviewing the Strategy, and more recently have been working on the Sarus Crane entry for the 2020 revision of the Action Plan for Australian Birds.

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 more than 20 years of survey data, and writing is in progress. John leads ongoing research on Brolga and Sarus breeding ecology in the seasonal Gulf Plains wetlands and is also working on Black-necked Storks and raptors in the Gulf Plains.

John is 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:

Other links: John's Website and Email

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Dr Inka Veltheim

Inka Veltheim

Inka and part of her study population

Inka was awarded her PhD in 2019 (Federation University, Ballarat, Victoria, and the Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group, Melbourne University) on the movements, habitat use and population ecology of Brolgas in south west Victoria. Extensive wind farm developments in the area 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 have been used to refine a population viability analysis developed by Melbourne University, used to advise environmental impact reviews.

Earlier, 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. Inka hopes for a long-term future with cranes including banding, satellite tracking, spatial analysis of Brolga habitat Australia-wide, and landholder engagement in wetland health. She now works with a consulting company and in her spare time assists wetland bird projects on Brolgas and endangered Australasian Bitterns Botaurus poiciloptilus (see Bitterns in Rice).

Inka Veltheim Links:

Dr 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. The Mareeba Wetlands (now Forever Wild Tropical Wetlands Reserve) 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» survey.

In 2019 Tim was awarded his PhD from Charles Darwin University, on the ecological, behavioural and genetic interactions between Brolgas and Sarus Cranes, and conservation management implications. Fieldwork was based on the Atherton Tablelands and in the Gulf Plains, and included genetic studies of hybridisation between Australia's two crane species, first reported by crane researcher Dr George Archibald of the International Crane Foundation. Tim's most recent work, with colleagues, has established the Australian Sarus Crane as a recognised subspecies with probable closer links to the extinct Philippines Sarus Crane, than other populations elsewhere in Asia. He is continuing work on north Queensland crane movements using DNA from shed feathers, and has begun a study of the almost unknown Brolga population in New Guinea. Tim acts as the ‘Guardian’ for the Atherton Tablelands Key Biodiversity Area», trigger species Sarus Crane.

Tim Nevard Links:

Elinor C. Scambler

Elinor Scambler, 2017 (courtesy B. Hiscox)

Elinor Scambler

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 largely 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 annual BirdLife volunteer Crane Count on the Atherton Tablelands, the first systematic count for Australian Sarus, and the first for far north Queensland Brolgas. Results from 1997-2017 have now been published». The North Queensland Naturalist has recently published a paper on pioneer farmer-ornithologist Jim Bravery and Tablelands crane history 1920-1975. Two further papers on aspects of crane biology and ecology are now published in Australian Field Ornithology, on Sarus Crane ‘triplets’ and on a Brolga preying on eggs of Australasian Grebe. All Elinor's papers can be downloaded from her personal website Cranesnorth.

In 2004 Elinor began the Australian Crane Network, designed and built the Ozcranes website, and continues as web manager and editor. Side interests are web design using Web Standards and Crane art in all its many forms...

Elinor Scambler on Ozcranes:

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