A flock of 34 flamingos flew out of King Shaka International Airport yesterday morning – the second and final batch of flamingos under the care of uShaka Sea World.
They were part of 2,000 chicks found abandoned and distressed after water problems threatened their habitat in Kimberly in January this year, reports Northglen News.
The last 34 flamingos have been recuperating to gain weight, grow feathers and muscles, sport the correct shade of pink, and jump high enough to assure veterinarians that they will be able to thrive once released. They will return to Kimberly in the wake of the first group of 78 flamingos that left Durban on April 10.
“It was a very emotional moment when I loaded the last flamingos onto the plane and knew that I was heading back to uShaka only to be greeted by an empty structure. It has been an honour and a privilege to have been able part of the rehabilitation of these young flamingos over the past three and a half months and I am going to miss them an awful lot,” said project co-ordinator Tracy Shaw.
Although all the flamingos have made significant progress over the past four weeks, experts decided not to fly them directly to Kamfers Dam. Instead, they will go to the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, where they will remain until they are declared fit enough for release.
uShaka Sea World thanked the volunteers who cared for the young flamingos, some of whom started volunteering the day after the chicks arrived and only packed their gloves away yesterday.
“I have cared for and watched over these flamingos since they were two days old and feel so much pride and thankfulness to have been able to play a part in the Flamingo Project where 112 flamingos have been given a second chance at life” said uShaka volunteer Brigid Toughey.
At their final weigh-ins, the heaviest flamingo weighed 1.7kg while the smallest one weighed only 600g.
Danica Hansen / The Citizen