The whole world now has an opportunity to watch the breeding antics of 20,000 Lesser Flamingos! A state-of-the-art webcam was recently installed on Kamfers Dam’s famous flamingo breeding island, and the images are now broadcast to the world via Africam.
The equipment has numerous sophisticated functions, including pan, tilt and zoom, so close-up images of chicks hatching out of eggs, parents feeding their chicks, and many other aspects of the previously unseen breeding behaviour of Lesser Flamingos are now available to wildlife enthusiasts around the world. Infrared lights allow for 24 hour/day viewing, and a microphone allows one to hear the hustle and bustle of life in the flamingo colony. On the website, one can either see live-streaming images or static images which are refreshed every ten seconds.
“The equipment was sponsored by Nedbank Capital, Ekapa Mining and Nugen, with Herbert and Brenda Booth, Kamfers Dam’s landowners, providing assistance and logistic support”, said Campbell Scott, one of the directors of Africam. Brad Maxwell, joint-head of Mining & Resources at Nedbank Capital said, “Nedbank has a long history of promoting environmental responsibility, and therefore we are proud to have assisted in sponsoring the webcam.” The project was coordinated by the Save the Flamingo Association (www.savetheflamingo.co.za), a group of concerned people, businesses and organizations who are committed to ensuring the conservation of Kamfers Dam and its flamingos and other waterbirds.
The artificial flamingo breeding island, the first such structure for Lesser Flamingos in the world, was funded and constructed by Ekapa Mining in September 2006. According to Jahn Hohne, Managing Director of Ekapa Mining, “…this exciting project enabled Ekapa to contribute to the conservation of Kimberley’s magnificent dam and its flamingos.”
The Lesser Flamingos bred successfully on the island last year, producing 9000 chicks. A massive breeding event is currently underway and, as it is six weeks earlier than last year, more chicks are expected this time around. Breeding events are irregular at other sites and, for example, only successful every 12 years at Etosha Pan in Namibia. The annual breeding of Lesser Flamingos at Kamfers Dam will contribute to the conservation of these flamingos.
The Kamfers Dam Lesser Flamingo breeding island has received international acclaim, including both national and international awards. Ekapa Mining received the prestigious Nedbank Capital Green Mining Award in 2007 for their contributions to the project. Mark Anderson, who proposed and then coordinated the project, received an African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement award in Madagascar in September 2008. Dr Brooks Childress, Chairman of the SSC/IUCN Flamingo Specialist Group, described the project as “…the most important contributions to flamingo conservation internationally in many years”.
According to Mark Anderson, Executive Director of BirdLife South Africa, “Kamfers Dam is the only breeding locality for Lesser Flamingos in South Africa, and one of only four breeding localities in Africa”. “This globally near-threatened species needs active conservation management, as the population is declining and there are very few breeding sites” he added.
Kamfers Dam’s flamingos also have their problems. The Save the Flamingo Association was recently formed to address two important threats to the dam’s flamingos, namely pollution from a sewerage works and a proposed massive housing development which will be located on a property adjacent to the dam (more details are available on www.savetheflamingo.co.za).
As Lesser Flamingos only breed at vast, open pans and lakes, there has until now been no opportunity to view the breeding close-up and also to study the birds’ biology. The webcam opens up so many opportunities to create an awareness about these interesting birds. Ornithologists will also use the camera to obtain much-needed scientific information about these flamingos’ breeding biology.