The Three Cranes Challenge was first started in 2010 by the farmers in the Karkloof Conservancy in order to generate funds to fund our conservation projects, in particular, the conservation of the Wattled, Blue and Grey Crowned Cranes.

The Karkloof Conservancy welcomes you to the Three Cranes Challenge and would like to thank you for your support.

Our motto is to CONSERVE, PROTECT AND EDUCATE. In order for one to conserve and protect something they need to be educated as to WHY they must conserve and protect it, they need to know WHAT they are conserving and protecting and HOW to do this with as minimal footprint as possible.

Our vision for the Karkloof is to conserve the biodiversity of the entire Karkloof and beyond, to protect all species and their habitats, to support long term sustainable resource utilization and to work within our local communities to educate and promote development.

The Conservancy was formed in March 1998 by none other than Carolyn Goble and spans an area of approx. 40 000 hectares. It comprises of local farmers, forestry and land owners who strive to protect our biodiversity. Since our inception, we have been involved in many conservation and community projects and environmental education. We have two world class bird hides close to the conservation centre, which have provided many hours of good birding of many rare and endangered species of birds. We also have a beautiful picnic area where you can come and enjoy your meal while listening to the sounds of birds and cranes and breath in some good, clean fresh air.

We do a lot of work in our three local farm schools. We work with them, creating vegetable gardens, teaching them about birds and the cranes and what it means if they are endangered, how to care for the earth and that everything is connected, and try and teach them skills that they will use outside of school. Children are like sponges, they are our future conservationists, which is why it is vitally important to go into the schools and expose them to these things.

The success of our Conservancy is as a result of collaborations with many environmental organisations like EWT, WWF, Sanparks, Ezemvelo, the Honorary Officers, Birdlife and our landowners, communities and farmers.

Our Conservation Centre was opened in October 2007 by Dr Ian Player, which in itself, says it all. He epitomised “conservation” and would not have endorsed the Conservancy had he not believed in what we stand for.

A lot of our farmers are part of the custodianship and land stewardship programs. We promote no till farming methods which have had huge benefits to the farmers, the atmosphere and biodiversity in general. By farmers not ploughing their lands but ripping and planting, they are not disturbing the top layer of compost and by planting a cover crop, they are creating a perfect food chain for insects and birds. They are also using less diesel, thereby less pollution and creating less dust. Prior to 1990 farmers noticed a decline in the birdlife where farmers ploughed lands and used chemicals not conducive to birds and plants, once they started with the no till methods and changed chemicals, a vast difference has been noticed, especially with the return of the three cranes species.

We are home to ALL three crane species – Grey Crowned crane, Wattled crane and Blue crane. We are only one of a handful of places in SA where they are all found together, so we are very privileged. When you combine all these factors of no till farming methods and our wetlands and grasslands being MOSTLY pristine (thanks to our farmers), this makes for an ideal habitat for them.

We monitor the cranes on behalf of EWT, logging their whereabouts which enables us to track their movements, identifying threats, helping with the ringing of the cranes and monitoring the nest sites. Aerial surveys are conducted every year and in 2001 there were approximately 160 Wattled cranes left in SA, 20 years later their numbers are sitting at 399, the same goes for the Blue cranes, their numbers have increased and this is thanks to the hard work done by EWT, Ezemvelo and landowners. The Grey Crowned crane numbers have gone down which is why we are trying to establish where their nesting sites are, which will enable us to identify any threats and try and rectify them and increase success in breeding.

25 000 hectares of the Karkloof is recognized as an IBA (important bird and biodiversity area) by Birdlife which is aided by the fact the we have many trigger species of birds in the area, nl the three crane species, cape parrots, southern ground hornbill, grass owl & secretary birds just to name a few.

We are extremely lucky to have the second largest indigenous forest in South Africa in the Karkloof, which makes way for pristine grasslands and mistbelt forests. We have an array of unique plants, insects, fungi, birds and animals in the forest which have led to many research projects being conducted here, in fact a new species of fly and orchid has recently been discovered.

Our annual game count is held in June, this enables us to monitor the growth or decline of the wildlife. We also have an anti-poaching initiative which has been very effective in reducing the poaching activities in our area. We do an annual road clean up every July which has reduced the amount of litter significantly and we are also actively involved in alien invasive clearing.

This year we have initiated a program with the SANParks Honorary Rangers and their Junior Honorary Rangers program and have about 20 children involved. We organize monthly outings on different topics where we bring in experts to talk to the children. Our last outing was with Nick Evans, the children were enthralled with the snakes and just loved it, learning about them at the same time. Some of our other outings are the Mangroves in Durban, the African Raptor centre in Ashburton where the children dissected owl pellets, a visit to a Game farm and Crane conservation just to name a few.

The Conservancy functions solely on donations, we are constantly thinking of ways to generate funds. In order to fund our projects, we offer walks and hikes into the forest with specialist guides, guided walks through farms that practice no till, flower walks up on Gilboa, frogging evenings in our wetlands which the children (and some adults) absolutely love, educational talks to schools, The Three Cranes challenge, birding mornings, pensioners mornings, a golf day and fun days for children during the school holidays. Children just love building a wetland, or catching insects and studying them under a microscope or a magnifying glass or catching a frog. By doing all of this we are exposing people to parts of the Karkloof that are not normally accessible to visitors and it is showcasing what we are trying to achieve AND yes, raising MUCH needed funds.

So basically, the Karkloof is amazing. It is a plethora of pristine wetlands, grasslands, forests, amazing fauna and flora, cranes and farmers that are conservation orientated and will do anything to conserve and protect.

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Due to unforeseen circumstances the long distance events have had to be cancelled for 2024. 
The 25km event will still take place on Saturday 9 March, and a new 15km event has been made available on the same day.
Click Here for more info…