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South Africa
Economy - Development | Politics | Environment - Nature

Flamingos under threat in SA

afrol News, 10 July - South African authorities have been called to reverse plans to develop housing projects on the banks of Kamfers Dam outside the Northern cape capital of Kimberley, fearing it will threaten the only breeding population of Lesser Flamingos Phoeniconaias minor in the country.

The dam, which supports one of only four breeding populations in Africa, has birds that bred during 2008, with an incredible 9,000 chicks hatching on the its artificial flamingo breeding island. Conservatists said the development will negatively reverse the regular breeding trend of Lesser Flamingos.

“The development of the site was a huge investment and would be a shame if it is allowed to be destroyed by this threat” the acting Director of BirdLife South Africa, Duncan Pritchard, said in a statement.

A result of poor management of sewage works by the Sol Plaatje Municipality has made Kamfers Dam the current depository for raw sewage that flows from the currently dysfunctional treatment plant. BirdLife South Africa said the increased constant eutrophication has led to severe algal blooms and may be responsible for the current lesions and abnormalities being recorded on some of the Lesser Flamingos.

Africa's Lesser Flamingo population is declining mainly due to the trheats posed by poorly planned development and water pollution.

The proposed development project is expected to destroy about 350 hectares of the dam's buffer zone. But bird rights activists wonder why the Sol Plaatje Municipality remains adamant to go ahead with the project, despite being against Kimberley's Spatial Development Framework. It also contradicts South Africa's commitment to honour international conventions on Migratory Species and Biological Diversity.

“Political leadership is failing South Africa in allowing and promoting unsound development that directly impacts on threatened birds,” said Duncan Pritchard.

In many parts of Africa, the survival of Lesser Flamingos has been at stake. The proposed soda ash project at Lake Natron where nearly all of East Africa's estimated 1.5 - 2.5 million Lesser Flamingos (75% of the world population) breed has angered conservationists who complaining that the birds are extremely sensitive to environmental disturbance, especially when breeding.

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