Department of Environmental Affairs welcomes rescue of flamingo chicks from Kamfer’s Dam in the Northern Cape
01 February 2019
The Department of Environmental Affairs has welcomed the initiative of private individuals and various organizations to assist in the rescue of Lesser Flamingo chicks from the Kampfer’s Dam in Kimberley.
The Department supports the current coordinated rescue which involves specialists from various organizations and private individuals. It is important that the coordinated rescue and release of the bird back into the wild are led by experts that are familiar with the species in captivity as well as the behaviour of the birds in the wild.
The Lesser Flamingo is classified as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and as threatened in terms of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) International Single Species Action Plan.
The birds had bred for the first time at the artificial breeding site at Kamfer’s Dam in 2008. It has yet to be determined whether this will become a regular breeding site.
The Lesser Flamingo occurs regularly in 30 countries, including Africa and Asia. Because of its specialized diet of microscopic alkaline cyanobacteria (‘blue-green algae’), the Lesser Flamingo is totally dependent on a habitat of shallow saline or alkaline lakes, pans, wetlands and coastal areas, and >95% of its non-breeding population is concentrated at just 73 sites in the 12 primary range states.
Confirmed regular breeding is confined to just five sites in Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, and the Zinzuwada and Purabcheria salt pans in India.
Major threats to the survival of the Lesser Flamingo are the loss and/or the degradation of its specialised habitat through altered hydrology and water quality, wetland pollution, extraction of salt and soda ash, particularly at its breeding sites, and the disruption of its few breeding colonies by other human activities. Other threats include disruption of nesting colonies by predators, poisoning, disease, harvesting of eggs and live birds, and competition for food and breeding sites.
The Department of Environmental Affairs, will in cooperation with other government departments, ensure that the habitat for these birds are not destroyed by human action.
However, any action taken to rescue these birds needs to take place in a coordinated manner, and following the issuing of the necessary permits by the provinces affected by the removal of the birds from their natural habitat, and the provinces to which the birds are reportedly being taken for rehabilitation.
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The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago. South Africa is a contracting party to this Agreement since 2002, and has recently hosted successfully the Seventh Meeting of Member Countries to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA MOP7) which took place from 4-8 December 2018, Olive Convention Centre, Durban, Kwazulu Natal.
The meeting was aimed at discussing issues related to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats which are of strategic importance to South Africa. In addition, this meeting also provided opportunity to the African Region to exchange views and experiences on activities relating to the conservation and management of the migratory species and to strengthen their cooperation on issues that are best dealt with at regional level. International cooperation across the entire migratory ranges of species listed under AEWA is essential for their conservation and one of the main ways of achieving this is through the development of species action plans. The AEWA International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Lesser Flamingo is one of the species action plan developed under AEWA, and it outlines all measures to protect their species and manage their habitat. It is supported by BirdLife International.