Wetlands and their animal inhabitants might be facing a number of serious threats, but at least there's been some good news for one wetland bird species this World Wetlands Day. African wattled cranes in South Africa have just had their best breeding season in two decades.

"South Africa's wattled crane population is finally stable, and showing a slight increase in KwaZulu-Natal", says Tanya Smith, senior field officer for the Endangered Wildlife Trust's African Crane Conservation Programme.

A total of 261 wattled cranes and chicks were counted during the 2013 survey. Colour rings, which allow scientists to gather critical data about the birds' movements, survival, age of first breeding and sex ratios, were also fitted onto 16 chicks this season – the highest number since the colour-ringing programme was launched in 1987.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust, a conservation organisation dedicated to the protection of threatened species and ecosystems in southern Africa, works closely with local government organisations to promote the conservation not only of cranes, but also the region's wetlands as a whole.  

Africa's wattled cranes (Bugeranus carunculatus) are completely dependent on wetlands for their long-term survival, and the destruction of these fragile habitats is one of the biggest threats the birds face. 

Today, the single largest concentration of wattled cranes occurs in Botswana's Okavango Delta, where the Earth Touch crew has been lucky enough to film them. Watch!

Top header image: tomosuke214, Flickr