Dr Doug Harebottle, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Biological and Agricultural Sciences Department, is collaborating with John Werth from PAAZA (Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria) in monitoring the movements of hand-reared Lesser Flamingos that were released back into Kamfers Dam, outside Kimberley, after they were fitted with GPS transmitters.
Twenty birds have been fitted with these units to track their movements post-release.
These birds form part of the almost 2,000 chicks that were rescued earlier this year from the dam when their parents supposedly abandoned their nests as a result of the nests being exposed due to receding water levels during a prolonged summer drought.
Of the 2,000 chicks that were sent to approved rehabilitation facilities around South Africa, about 600 birds survived and were returned to Kimberley in preparation for their release back into the dam where they were born.
All the birds at the Kimberley quarantine facility were fitted with yellow leg bands which are inscribed with a black four-digit numeric code and a metal SAFRING ring so that they could be easily identified in the field. Almost 420 birds have been released to date.
There have been some impressive results since the first release on 8 May.
One bird (non-tracker bird), arrived in Lüderitz, Namibia, a straight line distance of almost 1,000 km! Another bird, which is fitted with a tracker unit, ended up at a pan near Chrissiesmeer in Mpumalanga and travelled nearly 630 km.
Two tracker birds have selected some small local wetlands at which to feed, while five others are still at Kamfers Dam, which as of 1 June probably supports over 40,000 flamingos!