1155 Observatory Dr, Madison, WI 53706
President & CEO
International Crane Foundation
Cranes are among the most revered birds in the world, and the most endangered. In Africa, cranes are celebrated by diverse nations and cultures across the continent. The Grey Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda, appearing on the national flag and coat of arms. Nigeria and South Africa also honor cranes as their national bird, and the birds feature prominently in the traditional folklore of the Zulu, Xhosa, Khoikhoi, and many other peoples. Yet cranes are among the most endangered families of birds in Africa, with all four resident species facing extinction, and in the coming years climate change, water security, population growth, and other challenges will further imperil cranes, many other species of wildlife, and the places where they live. The International Crane Foundation works through the charisma of cranes to bring people together to protect and restore the wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural landscapes on which they depend on—and by doing so, find new pathways to sustain our land, water, and livelihoods. We will explore lessons from conservation efforts across Africa, highlighting win-win solutions for biodiversity and livelihoods in the Lake Victoria Basin of East Africa and the floodplains of the great Zambezi River of Africa. We also will highlight some of the outstanding African leaders who have dedicated their lives to conservation.
Dr. Richard Beilfuss is President & CEO of the International Crane Foundation (ICF), a nonprofit organization working worldwide to conserve endangered cranes and the wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural systems on which they depend. Beilfuss provides oversight, direction, and prioritization to ICF programs across Asia, Africa, and North America, working closely with ICF regional offices in China, Cambodia, India, Zambia, Uganda, South Africa, and Texas. From 1992-2006, Beilfuss was responsible for developing and managing ICF’s regional program in Africa, working with ICF staff and associates in more than 20 countries across the continent and spearheading public and private efforts to implement innovative water management practices in the Zambezi River Basin for the benefit of cranes, many other species, and human livelihoods. From 2006-2009, he lived in Mozambique with his family and served as Director of Conservation Services for Gorongosa National Park. Beilfuss is a licensed professional hydrologist and teaches graduate courses in engineering and environmental studies at the UW-Madison and the University of Eduardo Mondlane-Mozambique. He lives with his wife, Katie, and their two sons in Madison. He is an avid unicycle rider, dart-thrower, and birder–but not all at the same time.