3 minute read
31 Jan 2019
1:10 pm

Thousands of flamingo chicks pay the price for drought, negligence


The Kamfers Dam has been the scene of a week-long rescue operation to save the thousands of chicks that had been abandoned.

A lesser flamingo chick being fed. Image: Facebook/Kimberley SPCA

A dam in Kimberley that is one of four breeding grounds in Africa for lesser flamingos has been hit hard by an ongoing drought in the region, as well as alleged municipal negligence. And unfortunately, baby lesser flamingos have paid the price, as mothers leave their chicks and eggs in search of water, according to Getaway Magazine.

The Kamfers Dam has been the scene of a week-long rescue operation to save the thousands of chicks that had been abandoned.

The dam, a permanent wetland, is located north of Kimberley, and normally contains a high concentration of algae that flamingos love to eat, according to A Vision in Pink by Mark Anderson.

Facebook group Saam Staan Kimberley called on veterinary clinics, bird rehabilitation centres and volunteers to help donate and transport the chicks from the dam to safety since January 24.

Volunteers feed baby lesser flamingo chicks. Image: Facebook/Saam Staan Kimberley

The hundreds of chicks they saved were transported to the Kimberley SPCA to recover.

Since their call to help the chicks, rehabilitation centres across South Africa have volunteered to take in the chicks, spanning from Pretoria to KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

Ekapa Mining even volunteered to fly a batch of chicks to Wonderboom airport in Pretoria, where a host of vets collected them for rehabilitation. 

On Monday, 2,000 chicks were still in need of rescue at the Kamfers Dam.

The Owl Rescue Centre described the Kamfers Dam as a ‘flamingo graveyard’. Image: Facebook/Owl Rescue Centre

One of the many chicks that succumbed to the elements. Image: Facebook/Owl Rescue Centre

Organisations that have agreed to rehabilitate the chicks are the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in the Western Cape, uShaka Marine World in Durban and World of Birds in Hout Bay.

Owl Rescue Centre also took in a number of chicks.

BirdLife Africa has been actively involved in the consistent rehabilitation of Kamfer Dam’s flamingos for the past 15 years, and explains that two factors have seriously threatened this species over the years: deteriorating water quality and a proposed massive housing development that will be located on an adjacent property.

The chicks are currently being fed a combination of Nestum baby food, shrimp, prawns, boiled egg yolks, Beefee powder, raw oils and vitamins.

The lesser flamingos has been declared a near-threatened species, due to rapidly declining population numbers and the low number of breeding sites available, making the Kamfers Dam disaster even more devastating.

Kamfer Dam in Kimberley. Image: Twitter/@gotravelbug

Northern Cape publication DFA reported that the Sol Plaatjie municipality can be blamed, in part, for the dead and dying flamingos. This is because of low water levels at the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Plant, combined with an ongoing drought, resulting in the dam rapidly drying up, leaving the starving chicks too far away from the water to survive. No water inflow from sewage works also means that sewage is pooling into the veld. Inferior infrastructure and apathy from the municipality are being blamed for the deaths.

As the lesser flamingo is an endangered species, the department of environmental affairs and nature conservation is monitoring the rehabilitation efforts closely, as chicks may not be in the care of any unauthorised personnel without prior approval from the department, explains a post on Saam Staan Kimberley.

Those who wish to donate to the Kimberley SPCA can do so by using the following details:

Kimberley SPCA
Standard Bank
Account Nr: 040 057 607
Branch Code: 050 002
Ref: Smoothy Challenge

Sources: BirdLife website, Anderson Africa website

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