The value of marking systems
Read about the incredible journey of #0317 here http://www.cfoo.co.za/flamingo/news.html - almost 1000km just 5 weeks post-release! Without the yellow band this data would never have been captured.
In January, the flamingos of Kimberley's Kamfers Dam faced the worst possible disaster when drought and infrastructure problems forced the flamingo parents from their purpose-built island, away from their unhatched eggs and hatchlings. The chicks were abandoned and left to die of dehydration and starvation, until humankind showed its kindness. A local NPO, Saam Staan Kimberley, joined hands with Kimberley SPCA. Thousands of chicks were rescued from certain death and held at Kimberley SPCA until arrangements were made for their care at various rehabilitation facilities across the country. Hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly to feed and clean the chicks, before they were whisked off to their new temporary homes. It was at this stage that the rescue event turned into a caring and rearing event. This would not have been possible were it not for the 16 to 20-hour days over a couple of months by dedicated and experienced staff at five accredited PAAZA facilities, a rehabilitation facility and a private facility. The man-hours spent by staff and volunteers from the Zoo and Aquarium industry and the public, runs into multiple years and this was all done in addition to their normal duties! The synergy of collaboration between Kimberley SPCA and PAAZA became very clear. Both organisations have very clear legislative guidelines and professional attributes that has resulted in the headlines changing from ‘Disaster’ to ‘What a proud moment for Kimberley’ as the birds are released back to the wild.
As the recovery stage of the Lesser Flamingo event enters the final stage, release back to the wild flock, the quarantine facility that was constructed on Kimberley SPCA property, in collaboration with PAAZA, will become a permanent attribute to the SPCA. The facility, which was funded by donations from the Zoo and Aquarium industry, was built and run under PAAZA protocols as per requirements laid down by DEA and within the mandate of the SPCA. Although the containerised clinic and offices will be removed, the site will be maintained in preparation for any future event. Since it is a fully rodent and predator proof facility, it can also be used for other flighted species that might need assistance or any other eco-friendly purpose as determined by the Kimberley SPCA. It needs to be noted that this is a quarantine and short term holding facility and in NO way a captive facility. The facility adheres to the DEA TOPS definition for a quarantine and temporary holding facility: ‘for the purpose of prohibiting physical contact with specimens of listed threatened or protected species, with the overall intent to release such specimen’.
Sadly there have been mortalities along the way, but the good news is that a long term monitoring plan has been put in place under the auspices of the Sol Plaatje and Nelson Mandela Universities. This includes GPS tracked individual birds (selected percentage), with all released birds being fitted with yellow number bands, metal SAFRING rings and microchips and an enormous monitoring effort from bird enthusiasts in the Kimberley community. This ‘on the ground’ monitoring is being coordinated by Dr Doug Harebottle (Sol Plaatje University), whilst John Werth (Nelson Mandela University) will be responsible for the tracking. All data will be collated and will be recorded as National data. The entire monitoring event is being undertaken with all legislative conditions having been met with the relevant permits from the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC). We would like to appeal to the public that should they come across a Lesser Flamingo in distress that has a yellow band attached, that they contact Dr Doug Harebottle (firstname.lastname@example.org, Message: +27 82 7363087) as soon as possible. Please note that only members appointed by Dr Harebottle or the Kimberley SPCA inspectorate are permitted to move or collect any bird. The Kimberley SPCA will continue to be an integral part of the long term monitoring and related.
Although there has been enormous support from the Zoo and Aquarium community both locally and internationally, ex-situ, without the incredible support from the Kimberley community, today’s headline ‘What a proud moment for Kimberley’ would not have been written. Thank You to EVERYONE no matter how big or small your contribution was.