The bird has become the emblematic endangered species, thanks in part to its fierce charisma. Standing nearly five feet tall, it can spy a wolf—or a biologist—lurking in the reeds. It dances with springing leaps and flaps of its mighty wings to win a mate. Beak to the sky, it fills the air with whooping cries. The sole wild flock, listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967, has slowly expanded. At the same time, conservationists have hatched and bred the birds in captivity and reintroduced them to their former habitat, boosting the total—including captive stock—to more than 500.
However, the cranes are still under great risk. Jennifer S. Holland at National Geographic tells the story of how science and wildlife management brought the birds back from the brink of extinction. Link
(Image credit: Klaus Nigge)