We decided to stop and perhaps have lunch next to the flamingos, but rather carried on . . . we did not feel safe and could not even see any of the flamingos . . .

Kimberley - The Sol Plaatje Municipality has been slammed for “neglecting one of its major tourist attractions” as thousands of visitors are left to traverse railway lines and broken fences to view the world-famous flamingos at Kamfers Dam outside Kimberley.

Kamfers Dam supports the largest permanent population of lesser flamingos in Southern Africa, and is currently playing host to unprecedented numbers of flamingos forced to the dam by the crippling drought that has caused ephemeral pans and other wetlands in the interior of the country to dry up.

However, bird enthusiasts and visitors are not likely to experience much more than the pink blanket of birds covering the dam from the N12 from Johannesburg, as no access points or viewing areas are available to observe the birds any closer.

A visit to the dam yesterday revealed no sign boards or information about the birds and the dam, with only an unmarked gravel road leading to the railway line running next to the N12 along the dam.

The only way to get closer to the water’s edge is a dangerous climb trough a broken wire fence, up a steep embankment and over the railway line.

Several visitors yesterday did just that, but said that conditions were less than ideal and slammed authorities for neglecting the area.

“I am from Jan Kempdorp and often bring several tourists to Kimberley but would never bring them to see the flamingos, as there are no facilities, pathways and viewing areas. The area is also overgrown with reeds and we don’t feel safe here. It really is a pity that such a unique and beautiful tourist attraction is so neglected,” said Bertha Stolz.

A couple from Pretoria, Liesl and Dirk Lampbrecht, also followed the unmarked path towards the railway line to have a picnic but they were left “bitterly disappointed”.

“We are on our way to Sedgefield and decided to stop and perhaps have lunch next to the flamingos, but will rather carry on. We don’t feel safe and can’t even see any of the flamingos as the area is too low. We just can’t believe that this wonder of nature remains completely untapped as a prime tourist destination. It would have been a highlight of our journey had we been able to experience the spectacle from closer than the tar road,” they said.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said yesterday that he would forward concerns about the lack of access to the flamingos to the municipality’s tourism department.

Meanwhile, concerns have also been raised that Kamfers Dam could dry up completely within a year – possibly rendering the sight of flamingos in the Province a thing of the past – as the ongoing drought, combined with the fact that the Sol Plaatje Municipality is not pumping water into the dam anymore, has left water levels at a near all-time low.

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