Lesser Flamingo Conservation News

No longer lonely – Kimberley to Namibia

As extreme weather conditions are developing around the world, the air-streams for the Kimberley Lesser Flamingo’s seem to have followed a similar pattern with the sighting of yet another banded and ringed bird being recorded in Namibia. The first sighting, bird #0437, was recorded 15 June 2019 in Lüderitz. The latest sighting, bird #0492, has been by Mark Boorman (photo credit) on 12 July 2019 from Swakopmund Sewage Works (-22.6630 14.5354). The bird was released at Kamfers Dam on 24 June 2019. Mark reports that the bird looked in good condition, actively feeding together with 120 other Lesser Flamingos half of which were juveniles.

The reporting and validation of these is crucial to developing an understanding of the wider distribution of this species. For the research team to gain a better understanding, we require the valued assistance of birders with solid verification of sightings of banded birds. We request that sighting reports be accompanied by location (GPS coordinates if available), photographs and any information on flock size and how many adults and juveniles were present. These reports can be sent through to Dr Doug Harebottle - doug.harebottle@spu.ac.za.

We would like to acknowledge all the organisations, animal care staff, volunteers, sponsors and supporters who collectively have assisted in moving this event from a rescue, through a recovery process to a release back to the wild, the ultimate aim of the project.

For any further information, please contact the authors: Dr Doug Harebottle doug.harebottle@spu.ac.za and John Werth johnw@zepecs.com.





"Where do we go" - Preliminary Insight to the Dispersion of the Lesser Flamingo - 4 July 2019

Marking and tracking linked to a formalised research project were 'non-negotiable' criteria laid down at the inception of the Lesser Flamingo recovery event by the National Scientific Authority. This is already proving to be invaluable as more and more sightings of banded/ringed birds are reported, but possibly the most revealing is the real-time location monitoring. The dispersal from the Kimberley dam has been in various directions and to different Provinces with the latest being to the NNW - Spitskop Dam (Losasaneng) near Jan Kempdorp.

Although we always look to the 'good news' aspect of any translocation, there is a 'no so nice' side. Since we are monitoring a wild population, nature will take its toll, but what GPS tracking affords us, is the knowledge of when a bird is no longer alive. This has already allowed the research team to identify man made hazards, power lines, as well as potential predator areas and possible Bush Meat activity.

You can follow all the tracking updates and news here.

We would like to acknowledge all the organisations, animal care staff, volunteers, sponsors and supporters who collectively have assisted in moving this event from a rescue, through a recovery process to a release back to the wild, the ultimate aim of the project.

For any further information, please contact the authors: Dr Doug Harebottle doug.harebottle@spu.ac.za and John Werth johnw@zepecs.com.





We are now all Identified

Sunday 23 June 2019 saw another milestone for the Lesser Flamingo recovery event. To use Dr Doug Harebottle's own words; "Well that's it! 577 birds later and all juveniles at the SPCA quarantine facility are now fitted with a yellow band and SAFRING metal ring (including a rescued wild bird); a fantastic experience and a huge team effort. Thanks to everyone who assisted. I am going to miss the comradery. Now it's up to the birds." This is an incredible achievement.
All sightings and tracking data will be collated and analysed within the dedicated research project established between Dr Doug Harebottle and John Werth (Sol Plaatje and Nelson Mandela Universities (BCRE)).





Where do we go? The first GPS tracks away from Kamfers Dam

Hot on the incredible news of a colour-banded Lesser Flamingo juvenile from Kimberley being seen in Namibia, the first of the GPS tagged birds departed Kimberley overnight 17/18 June 2019. Although they took very different paths (154km and 174km), the end point was the Bultfontein area which is around 145km in a straight line. What is of interest is that these birds were released 7 June 2019. Currently there are another 15 juvenile Lesser Flamingos fitted with GPS tracking devices still on the dam. All the birds with GPS tracking devices were released on the same date.

At this stage we have more questions than answers, but as these birds move into the next phase of their growth cycle, we will obtain invaluable data on this species through the long term monitoring. The long term monitoring and data collection is a research collaboration between Sol Plaatje University and Bayworld Centre for Research and Education (BCRE), a professional associate of Nelson Mandela University. You can follow all the tracking updates and news here.

We also need your assistance with solid verification of sightings of banded birds. We request that sighting reports be accompanied by location (GPS coordinates if available) and photographs and should be sent through to Dr Doug Harebottle - doug.harebottle@spu.ac.za.

We would like to acknowledge all the organisations, animal care staff, volunteers, sponsors and supporters who collectively have assisted in moving this event from a rescue, through a recovery process to a release back to the wild, the ultimate aim of the project.

For any further information, please contact the authors: Dr Doug Harebottle doug.harebottle@spu.ac.za and John Werth johnw@zepecs.com.

Maps showing tracks and distance covered





The Value of Monitoring After Release - a Remarkable Journey

The first results are already starting to come through from the monitoring programme for the Lesser Flamingo juveniles that have been released back into Kamfers Dam following their rescue as chicks over five-months ago. On Saturday 15 June 2019, an email from Dr Jessica Kemper, who is based in Lüderitz, Namibia, reported that a juvenile Lesser Flamingo with a yellow colour-band was observed at First Lagoon (26º39.751'S, 15º09.306'E). Follow-up images confirmed that it was bird '0317', one of 49 birds that were part of the first cohort of birds to be released at Kamfers Dam on 8 May 2019. The straight-line distance from Kamfers Dam to Lüderitz is about 1000 km but it is likely the bird has probably covered more kilometers as it has presumably not flown direct to Lüderitz, but this is unknown. This is an amazing record given the relatively short time that the bird spent at the dam post-release before leaving and heading for Namibia. It presumably departed with other juveniles (and possibly some adults), as Dr Kemper reported that over the last two days there has been an influx of juvenile Lesser Flamingos to First Lagoon. This is the first indication of long-distance dispersal and possible migration of Kamfers Dam's Lesser Flamingos.

Currently there are about 245 juvenile flamingos with yellow colour-bands that have been released back into Kamfers Dam. Should any of these birds decide to leave the dam we look forward to receiving similar reports to that of Dr Kemper, and hopefully from other parts of southern Africa. To assist us with solid verification of banded birds, we request that reports be accompanied by location (GPS coordinates if available) and photographs and should be sent through to Dr Doug Harebottle - doug.harebottle@spu.ac.za.

In addition to the yellow bands and Safring metal rings, there are 17 birds that have been fitted with GPS tracking devices. Should one of these embark on a similar journey, we will obtain more invaluable data on this species. You can follow all the tracking updates and news here. The long term monitoring and data collection is a research collaboration between Sol Plaatje University and Bayworld Centre for Research and Education (BCRE), a professional associate of Nelson Mandela University.

We would like to acknowledge all the organisations, animal care staff, volunteers, sponsors and supporters who collectively have assisted in moving this event from a rescue, through a recovery process to a release back to the wild, the ultimate aim of the project.

For any further information, please contact the authors: Dr Doug Harebottle and John Werth

Image of bird (acknowledgement to Jessica Kemper)