Volunteers at the SA National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) assist with the rehabilitation of flamingo chicks. Sanccob
Cape Town - The recent abandonment of thousands of flamingo chicks by their mothers has been blamed on climate change that has caused a severe drought in Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

The rush to save the 2000 flamingo chicks turned into a countrywide race against time to save the birds.

The drought hit the Kamfers Dam in Kimberley where the flamingo colony stayed. Due to the intensity and extremity of climate change, the dam dried up and the adult population left. An initiative by various organisations across the country was launched to save and rehabilitate the birds.

Professor Nicholas King an environmental futurist, said: “Climate change is real, especially if you look at the intensity and extremeness of natural disasters. For the past four years we received a below average rainfall.

“I think in the Western Cape we are going to receive more rain in the summer, as opposed to in winter as in the past. The problem with summer rainfall is that it evaporates very quickly... This will also affect our agriculture sector.”

Bird World’s general manager Hendrik Louw said they had received 100 flamingo chicks to rehabilitate. “Their ages range from just a few days and they are still fairly weak. During the next few weeks they will be receiving intense feeding.

“Currently they are being fed every two hours and their feeding starts as early as 6am.

“The chicks are being fed a mixture of pilchards, prawn meat and Nestum milk, which is then made into a liquid. This is fed to them through a syringe.”

He said he would like to ask the public to donate teddy bears, Nestum milk, pilchards and prawns.

SA National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) is also rehabilitating a group of the chicks. In an update, they said the first 48 hours since their admission to their hospital had been critical. They had received constant rehydration, medical treatment and feeding.

Sanccob said: “We have witnessed an improvement in the surviving chicks. They are currently showing improvement from the medication and being fed every few hours.”

@RusanaPhilander

[email protected]

Cape Argus