The World Conference of Science Journalists 2025 is being launched with the announcement of the choice of the Blue Crane to symbolize this historic event, the first time the WFSJ has held a global conference on African soil.
The Blue Crane, South Africa’s national bird, is the logo of the WCSJ2025, to be held in Tshwane, South Africa from 1 to 5 December 2025.
This elegant, graceful bird carries a freight of cultural meaning for many different cultures and language groups in its endemic range across south and southern Africa.
In the languages isiZulu and isiXhosa, the name for the bird is Indwe; traditionally, amaXhosa chiefs would honour men who had been brave in battle by putting Blue Crane feathers in their hair. It’s called Mogolodi in Sepedi which is spoken widely across the north of the country, and Bloukraanvoël in Afrikaans.
The Ndebele, who also live in northern regions, respect the bird for its bravery (they defend their nests fiercely – they’ve been known to draw blood from humans who threatened them) and call it Mxololo.
Brave the Blue Crane may be, but it is classified as vulnerable due to a precipitous decline in numbers – since the 1970s, numbers have dropped by at least 50%, due to a range of threats including habitat loss. Several dogged and heroic efforts are underway to save the Blue Crane.
Which makes it an appropriate symbol for the WCSJ2025, where we’ll be talking about how to understand and report on the crises we face and the resilience and courage we need to tackle them.