After a long rehabilitation, more of the 2 134 distressed juvenile flamingos have been released at Kamfers Dam near Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

According to Mike Bolhuis of the Flamingo Project, “the official release of 59 lesser flamingo juveniles took place on Tuesday, 28 May, 2019”.

“It was an emotional and breathtaking scene when the birds reached the clay border around the dam, spread their wings and took flight for the very first time.”

Bolhuis added that “two smaller releases took place earlier in preparation for the third release on the 28th”.

“As mentioned before, the initial trial release was on 8 May, 2019, and the second release was on Monday, 27 May, 2019.

“In total, 170 flamingos have been released, with only two of the youngsters deciding not to venture out in the wild, just yet.

‘”Flamingos are very fragile birds that require a lot of care, and for them to integrate without any hesitation and to such an effective level with their wild counterparts is a major triumph and a success story in its own right,” said Bolhuis.

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(Photos supplied by Mike Bolhuis)

In January, News24 reported that more than 500 abandoned and distressed flamingo chicks were flown to Cape Town as part of a series of mercy flights from Kimberley after low water levels threatened their habitat.

Dr Katta Ludynia, the research manager at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds [Sanccob] in Flamingo Vlei on the West Coast, said at the time that “because of the very low water levels in Kamfers Dam [outside Kimberley in the Northern Cape] the birds had started to abandon their eggs and chicks”.

The lesser flamingo colony that makes the Kimberley region its home, is one of only three breeding colonies in southern Africa – the other two being in Namibia and Botswana.

The species is listed as nearly threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, so locals in Kimberley sprang into action to help save them when they noticed that more than 2 000 chicks were in distress.

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(Photos supplied by Mike Bolhuis)

Bolhuis, who initiated the project, said 2 134 were in distress.

The Kimberley SPCA and NPO Kimberley Staan Saam [Kimberley Stands Together] raised the alarm and helped arrange mercy flights to Pretoria and other facilities in the country that could accommodate them, including uShaka Marine World in Durban.

In April, News24 reported that many of these birds have since been rehabilitated and returned to their home in the Northern Cape.

Speaking to News24, Bolhuis said the release of the flamingos was ongoing.

“Every day, we release about 60 of the juveniles. We’ve so far released 49, 60 and 59 so today [Friday], we will probably release some as well and then Monday and Tuesday again. So, there’s about 600 to 700 birds that need to be released.” 

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(Photos supplied by Mike Bolhuis)

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