Four years ago, the population of grey-crowned cranes was just 487, but thanks to conservation efforts in Rwanda, that number has nearly doubled to 881. A majority of this conservation credit goes to the Umusambi Village, a Kigali-based bird sanctuary run by rescue organization Nsengimana.
In Rwanda, the ornate birds, with their yellow crown of feathers and black and red throat pouch, are seen as a symbol of wealth and status and are often captured to keep as pets or hunted for sport. The organization has rescued more than 200 cranes from captivity over the years. Although some are never healthy enough to return to the wild, most are released into protected forests after recovering at the sanctuary.