Drought threatens thousands of flamingo chicks in South Africa

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Rescuers are moving hundreds of dehydrated Lesser Flamingo chicks from their breeding ground at a drought-stricken South African dam to a bird sanctuary in Cape Town, to save them from death by starvation and lack of water.

Volunteers at Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) fed the chicks on Wednesday (January 30) with a mixture of eggs, baby cereal and prawns using feeding tubes and syringes.

Their birthplace, Kamfers Dam in the Northern Cape, is one of only three breeding grounds for the famously pink birds in southern Africa, the other two being in Namibia and Botswana, according to SANCCOB’s research manager Katta Ludynia.

The rescued chicks take three to four months to fledge, and it is not yet clear whether they will eventually be released back into the wild in Cape Town or transported back hundreds of km (miles) to their home in Kimberley, she said.

Ludynia said the sanctuary was caring for around 550 chicks, most of them dehydrated when they first arrived on Monday (January 28) after being abandoned by parents who went off in search of food.

The chicks are being moved to the sanctuary by plane and road.

SANCCOB is one of several centres across South Africa caring for around 2,000 chicks that were rescued from the dam.

Although it hosts the biggest population of lesser flamingoes in southern Africa, Kamfers Dam, situated to the north of Kimberley, is often dry and depends mainly on rain water. It also gets some water from a sewerage works that releases water into its wetlands.

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