Global perspective on cranes: George Archibald’s talk

• 4 p.m. Pratt Museum meet Archibald
• 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Homer High School

Staff report

George Archibald

George Archibald

International Crane expert George Archibald pioneered unorthodox methods to save cranes from the brink of extinction, including having human handlers wear crane costumes to avoid human imprinting.
He used ultralight aircraft to help teach migration routes to cranes. He spent three years with a highly endangered whooping crane named Tex, dressed as and acting as a male crane – walking, calling, dancing – to shift her into reproductive condition. Through his dedication and the use of artificial insemination, Tex eventually laid a fertile egg.
As Archibald later recounted the tale on The Tonight Show he reportedly stunned the audience and host Johnny Carson with the sad end of the story – the accidental death of Tex shortly after the hatching of her one and only chick.
In 1973, when cranes were in a perilous situation and many of the 15 remaining species were on the brink of extinction, George Archibald founded the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wis. He was director from 1973 to 2000. Currently he heads a World Conservation Union commission on crane survival.
In 1984, Archibald was awarded a MacArthur Fellows Program grant for his work with cranes. In 1987, he was added to the UN’s Global 500 Roll of Honour.
In order to protect the watersheds and grasslands where cranes live and to help increase migratory flight paths, Archibald has visited remote areas, including some of the world’s most hostile territories, including parts of Afghanistan, Cuba, India, Russia and the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Through the International Crane Foundation, Archibald continued to research and collaborate with colleagues around the world. Because of his efforts, Archibald not only discovered white-naped cranes on their wintering grounds, but he also led a successful campaign to save the Han River estuary, a critical wintering and migratory area located in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas. In fact, his efforts have led to the conservation of more than 5 million hectares of wetlands in Asia, mostly in China and Russia. Archibald also helped to implement conservation-education programs among local people in remote regions of Africa, Australia and Eurasia. During his career, Archibald has studied the ecology of eight species of cranes in Australia, Bhutan, China, Iran, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States, and has organized more than 900 researchers working with cranes in more than 60 nations.

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Posted by on May 9th, 2012 and filed under Feature. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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