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The Sentinels


A stunningly illustrated account of the 3 species of Southern African crane: the Grey Crowned Crane, the Blue Crane & the Wattled Crane

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In September 2013, photographer Daniel Dolpire set off on a passionate odyssey that would consume the next five years of his life. The Sentinels – Cranes of South Africa is the culmination of that epic journey. Photography by Daniel Dolpire and text by David Allan

It is little wonder that cranes so captivated Daniel’s heart. These are amongst the most stately and spectacular of all birds. The largest of them are the tallest flying birds on the globe. Their plumage
is typically striking and the family is acclaimed for the intricate patterning on their faces and heads. The habits of these elegant birds are no less entrancing. Their joyous and acrobatic dancing is simply
breath-taking. The sounds of their resonant trumpeting calls are amongst the most powerful and evocative in the avian world.

Sadly, cranes also feature amongst the most threatened of birds. No less than 11 of the world’s 15 species are now considered in danger of extinction. The main dangers come from the wanton destruction of the expansive wetlands that these birds are so reliant on for their continued survival. But other perils intrinsic to our increasingly crowded planet also take their toll.

The demise of cranes is by no means unavoidable though. They are adaptable animals capable of
living alongside humans if they are afforded a measure of tolerance. South Africa supports three crane species. The courtly Blue Crane occurs nowhere else in the world and is the country’s national bird. The
majestic Wattled Crane is one of the most critically endangered birds in South Africa. The ornate Grey Crowned Crane is one of the world’s most beautiful birds but, worryingly, it seems to be decreasing across
its broad African range even faster than the other two species.

The Sentinels is a photographic festival celebrating the beauty and uniqueness of these remarkable birds. Daniel travelled through the heart of South Africa’s ‘crane country’ meticulously documenting these birds in their natural habitat. He shares with us priceless images of cranes as they go about their daily routines. Daniel draws us deep into the hidden lives of these species, revealing the most intimate details of their activities. Towards the end of the project, Daniel brought in local ornithologist David Allan to ensure that the volume was underpinned by a scientifically rigorous text.

The Sentinels provides an unmatched window into the allure and wonder of South Africa’s cranes and focuses our attention on the very real dangers they face.

Hardcover, with French-folded jacket, ISBN 978-0-639-94733-4
Size 305 x 260 mm; 176 pages; all colour, 164 colour photographs and 5 maps

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