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)
She's also worked to create nature preserves in the former USSR countries, and got Russia and China to work together to preserve land on the migratory path of four endangered cranes, and in the same meeting, they agreed to create guarded wildlife preserves for the Siberian Tiger and Siberian Leopard.
Seven years ago, the International Crane Foundation was able to successfully use ultralight aircraft to guide Whooping Cranes bred at the Foundation to their winter habitat in Florida.
If anyone goes on vacation to the Wisconsin Dells, you should consider visiting the ICF. They have done as much as Nat Geo (if not more) for the conservation of cranes, but I am still really glad to see Nat Geo featuring the beginning of the recovery of Whooping Cranes.