Citizen reporter
3 minute read
25 Feb 2019
10:29 am

Another massive flamingo rescue could be on the cards

Citizen reporter

The plight of the Lesser flamingo is far from over, as dropping dam levels and sewage inflow is slowly causing the Kamfers Dam to dry up.

Lesser flamingo chicks at the Pretoria National Zoo, 6 February 2019, where 150 of the chicks rescued from the drought-stricken Kamfers Dam in Kimberley are being hand-reared. Picture: Jacques Nelles

CEO of BirdLife South Africa Mark Anderson announced on Saturday that another pending mass rescue of more Lesser flamingo chicks is imminent.

The announcement, made via the Facebook group Save the Flamingo, details that rapidly dropping water levels at Kimberley’s Kamfers Dam means that the dam could dry up completely in the next two weeks.

In addition, the dropping water levels from a lack of rain means that a “rapid drop in the density of algae in the dam is imminent.” Blue-green algae is the primary food source of the Lesser flamingo.

ALSO READ: Don’t disturb flamingos outside Kimberley – BirdLife SA

There are over 5,000 Lesser flamingo chicks present at the dam’s crèche, but in order for the youngsters to get old enough to fly with adult flamingos to alternative feeding sites, the Kamfers Dam conditions must remain favourable for at least two months – a prospect that does not seem likely.

A panorama taken by Doug Harebottle of Save the Flamingo showing three large crèches covered by Lesser flamingos as water levels reduce. Image: Facebook/Save the Flamingo

BirdLife South Africa says that their efforts to address the sewage discharge inflow problems were successful at first, but due to rapid evaporation rates, current inflows are not enough to keep the water levels at the dam stable. And despite welcoming storms in the area in February, this still was not enough to fill the dams.

Due to the fact that the Lesser flamingo is a near-threatened species, and that the fading Kamfers Dam is one of only four breeding sites for the flamingo species in sub-Saharan Africa, an urgent meeting has been requested with the Acting Head of the Department of the Northern Cape’s environment and nature conservation department and the Department of Environmental Affairs.

The meeting, according to the post, will be used to detail the need to capture, house and care for at least 5,000 chicks, in addition to the thousands that have already been rescued.

The organisation also declared the Kamfers Dam unfit for the release of the chicks currently being rehabilitated in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban.

“Should it be required, the rescue for more than 5,000 flamingo chicks would be an intervention of unprecedented scale and complexity,” the post lamented.

The chicks were counted by a sophisticated method developed by BirdLife and Ekapa Mining, and thus far, 5,250 chicks have been flagged as possibly requiring rescue action soon, should dam conditions continue to deteriorate.

Problems at the dam stem from the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Works, whose gravitational feed from Galeshewe was repaired, which meant an initial inflow of 24 megalitres per day, but due to a lack of rain, this dropped to 14 megalitres per day. This, in addition to an estimated 22 megalitres per day evaporation rate, means there is simply not enough water flowing into the dam.

This also means that further repairs, estimated to take months, will be needed before May. At present, BirdLife says that the Homevale Waste Water Treatment works is “non-functional”. An additional concern voiced in the post by both BirdLife and Ekapa Mining explains that an excess of 20 megalitres per day of raw sewage effluent is flowing into the veld at Platfontein farm, west of Kimberley.

(Compiled by Nica Schreuder)

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