Head of Section, Angela Matthews, is off to South Africa to assist with a conservation programme for the Lesser flamingo. Supported by Colchester Zoo’s charity, Action for the Wild, Angela will be based at Lory Park to help feed, clean and support the general care of flamingos chicks that have been placed here due to drought at Kamfers dam.

Kamfers dam in Kimberly, South Africa is the breeding ground for the Lesser flamingo, it is one of only 4 breeding grounds in the country  and covers 400 hectares. Most years there can be 20,000 birds on the lake but there can be up to 50,000! The lake relies on Sol plaatjie municipality to top the water level up but unfortunately this hasn’t happened this year and the rain fall in the area has been particularly low resulting in low water levels in the lake. Sadly, this means there is not enough food on the lake for all the flamingos therefore the adult flamingos have had to leave their chicks behind to find another suitable lake for them to thrive from.

Many organisations have come to the rescue of the chicks and together took in over 1000 chicks for hand rearing, with potentially more requiring help depending on the rainfall. A huge community effort took place to help rear the chicks, including working around the clock, collecting supplies, donating supplies and social media posting for support. The chicks were initially all in one place at SPCA but they were not large enough to assist the number of chicks which needed help at once. Once the flamingo chicks were stable enough, they were moved to various locations to continue with rearing but in a more manageable fashion.

Upon hearing the need of aid for the Lesser flamingo, Angela contacted the head of the organisation supporting the project to volunteer some assistance. Action for the Wild has helped fund Angela’s trip to offer this vital help that the species needs.

At Colchester Zoo Angela cares for a number of species including the Chilean Flamingo. Although this is not the same sub-species of flamingo, a lot can still be learnt from them and her experience of working with the birds will help the project in South Africa. Angela said, “My goal was to help with the crisis but also to gain knowledge in how to hand raise these birds, a skill which will be transferable to my everyday job should it ever be required. I am also hoping to visit Vulpro and learn about the work done there as again I work with four species of vultures at the zoo and Vulpro is another conservation project supported by Action for the Wild.”

Whilst Angela is away she’ll be writing a blog on her experience and we will share this with you on her return so check back soon for more information.

If you would like to help support this project as well as many other projects worldwide please visit www.actionforthewild.org for information on how to donate.

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