Flamingo tracking experiment off to good start

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flamingos

Mark Boorman (left) and Ann Scott with a Greater Flamingo captured at Mile 4 Saltworks on 9 January 2013 (photo Mike Scott).

The three flamingos, known by their ring codes as NFF, NFZ and NFX, fitted with GPS satellite tracking devices in January, have already yielded results for the “Flight paths for wetland flagships” project. 

The milesontone initiative kicked off in January, when the flamingo’s were tagged at the Mile 4 Saltworks near Swakopmund. This is the first time that such a tracking experiment with flagship wetland species is taking place in Namibia. 

flamingos

Mike Scott (front) and Mark Boorman release a Greater Flamingo fitted with a solar-powered satellite tracking device (photo Ann Scott).

To date, the movement of the three flamingos, restricted to north-south directions, have indicated that the birds are alive and well, that the GPS’s satellite trackers are functioning according to expectations and that the birds do indeed fly during times of darkness or poor light, Dr Ann Scott and Mike Scott of the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) Namibia, who are heading the project, said in a media statement yesterday. 

The GPS satellite trackers yielded the information that the Greater Flamingo NFF on 30 April flew south from Mile 4 Saltworks to Walvis Bay, a straight distance of about 35 km. On 5 May, in the early morning hours, NFF returned to Mile 4, where it is present up to now.

On 21 May, between 15h14 and 21h14, the Lesser Flamingo NFZ flew north from Mile 4 to Cape Cross – a straight distance of almost 100km. The flamingo has remained there until now. 

The third flamingo, a Greater Flamingo, NFX, moved 17 km to a point south of Swakop River mouth, between 29 and 30 May. Then on 30 May it was at Langstrand. Since then it has flown and stayed some 32 km south of Mile 4 on the coast, close to the Walvis Bay lagoon. 

Localities (yellow markers) recorded for a lesser Flamingo (based on a Google map compiled by John Mendelsohn: Raison).

Localities (yellow markers) recorded for a lesser Flamingo (based on a Google map compiled by John Mendelsohn: Raison).

According to Mike and Ann, large, charismatic birds such as flamingos and cranes are universally regarded as flagships for the conservation of wetland habitats. 

The study of their flight path stems from the fact that these migratory species cannot be confined to protected areas. Thus they often encounter threats in unprotected ares, including collisions with overhead lines or snaring and hunting. 

The project was launched as a way to determine flight paths and to use the results in order to identify problem areas. In this way, the team can begin to take conservation actions aimed at reducing the risks to the birds. 

 Localities (red markers) recorded for two Greater Flamingos (based on a Google map compiled by John Mendelsohn: Raison).

Localities (red markers) recorded for two Greater Flamingos (based on a Google map compiled by John Mendelsohn: Raison).

The “Flights paths for wetland flagships” project was initiated in 2012 by the NamPower/Namibian Nature Foundation strategic partnership, in cooperation with the Namibia Crane and Wetlands Working group. 

The project is funded by the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia, the Go Green Fund and the strategic partnership. 

Travel News Namibia
Travel News Namibia
Travel News Namibia is a high-quality glossy Namibia travel and lifestyle magazine tasked with promoting Namibia to the world. With riveting stories, first-hand encounters and magnificent photographs showcasing tourism, travel, nature, adventure and conservation, TNN is the ultimate and most comprehensive guide to exploring Namibia. Travel News Namibia is published in five different editions per year. These include four English- language editions and one German. Travel News Namibia is for sale in Namibia and South Africa.

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