Farming and cranes on the Atherton Tablelands, Australia

Timothy D. Nevard, Ian Leiper, George Archibald, Stephen T. Garnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Australia's two cranes, the brolga (Antigone rubicunda) and Australian sarus crane (Antigone antigone gillae), form dry-season flocks on the Atherton Tablelands in north Queensland, Australia, where they forage almost exclusively amongst planted crops. The long-term relationship between cranes and farmers is therefore critical to their conservation, especially as the cranes can sometimes cause significant economic damage to crops. We interviewed farmers to explore their current attitudes to cranes and their intentions for land use that might affect the birds. We found that most farmers tolerated the cranes, particularly when they feed among stubble. Most, however, are increasing the efficiency of their agronomic practices, harvesting combinable crops such as maize and peanuts in ways that are beginning to reduce post-harvest crop residues. There is also a rapid trend away from field crops to perennial and tree crops that have a higher return per unit area. Both trends may reduce foraging opportunities for the cranes and, unless managed effectively, are likely to increase the potential for damage and conflict with farmers in the field crops that remain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalPacific Conservation Biology
Issue number2
Early online date14 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


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