The Blue Crane is endemic to Southern Africa and is our National Bird, with a very small population in the Etosha Pans (northern Namibia) although there may be a flock in the western part of Swaziland. It has the most restricted global range of any crane species. This restricted range and the bird's rapid decline over large areas of this range over the last three decades qualifies it as Vulnerable. The loss of grassland breeding and foraging habitat and the poisoning of birds has led to this decline in population size.
While locally abundant in limited parts of its range, it is now rare in most parts. Its population may be divided into three, with one portion of the population extending from Limpopo, through Mpumalanga, the N.E. Free State, and KwaZulu-Natal into the northern parts of the Eastern Cape. A second group occurs in the central Karoo, from the Northern Cape extending into the southern Free State and Eastern Cape. The third group is centred on the south Western Cape (Overberg / Swartland regions), where it is a relatively recent colonizer of agricultural areas. The birds have all but disappeared from the northern areas of the Eastern Cape and occur only as an occasional vagrants in Lesotho and Botswana.