Renowned Lesser Flamingos get extra helping hands pre-release

There are 334* hand-reared Lesser flamingos at a quarantine holding facility in the Northern Cape that are not yet ready to be released. The waterproofing quality of the birds’ feathers does not yet meet the release criteria and experienced staff from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) have travelled to Kimberley to assist in preparing the remaining birds for their return to the wild.

Since being hand-reared at rehabilitation facilities around South Africa from January to April this year, 569 Lesser flamingos were safely transported back to Kimberley by SA Airlink. The birds were housed in a quarantine enclosure in Kimberley for final preparation before release, and 23 birds are in the care of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Specialist Wildlife unit for more intensive care and rehabilitation.

On 8 May 2019, the first trial hard release of 49 flamingos took place and since then, there were four more release occasions, resulting in a further 246 flamingos set free at Kamfers Dam. At present, SANCCOB staff members are in the Northern Cape assisting with a quick wash and rinse procedure of the 334 flamingos still in quarantine. The organisation is skilled in seabird rehabilitation and reports that the methods used are proven techniques to encourage natural preening of feathers, which will improve the birds’ waterproof plumage. There are currently sufficient people to carry out the task at hand and further volunteers are not needed. According to SANCCOB, the birds’ feathers will be monitored over the next week or so in order to determine whether the plumage meets the necessary criteria and that the juvenile flamingos have the best chance as possible for release into the wild.

For interesting insight on post-release monitoring, visit http://www.cfoo.co.za/flamingo/tracking.html to follow updates on 20 of the released birds that were fitted with tracking devices.

*All numbers of birds presented are as at Monday, 10 June 2019.