Victory for flamingos in Lake Natron controversy

This is a flamingo video.

From BirdLife:

Tata withdraws Natron project ESIA Report


Tata Chemicals Ltd (TCL) has finally withdrawn the much discredited Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Report for the proposed Lake Natron soda ash plant. The development has been opposed by national NGOs in Tanzania, the Lake Natron Consultative Group (a consortium of 32 mainly East African NGOs), BirdLife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB; BirdLife in the UK), for posing serious threats to the survival of Lesser Flamingos Phoeniconaias minor and the livelihoods of local communities.

In an apparent response to these concerns, the company told a stakeholder meeting hosted by the World Bank in Dar es Salaam last week that they had asked the Tanzanian government to disregard the earlier report.

Lake Natron flamingos still in danger: here.

Update October 2008: here.

4 thoughts on “Victory for flamingos in Lake Natron controversy

  1. East Africa: Region’s Birds in Danger

    The East African (Nairobi)

    15 June 2008
    Posted to the web 16 June 2008

    Dagi Kimani

    THEY HAVE FLOWN OVER THE AFrican savanna for millennia, but now, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, global warming and habitat destruction could shoot some of East Africa’s birds out of the sky.

    The IUCN’s Red List is a grim roll-call of endangered species around the world. This year’s list says that at least 1,226 species of bird are now threatened, with eight species being up-graded to the “critically endangered” category, the highest threat status.

    Among the region’s bird species listed by IUCN as endangered is the Sokoke Scops-owl, scientifically known as Otus ireneae.

    The traditional home of the bird, which feeds mostly on insects such as beetles, are the indigenous forests of coastal Kenya, especially the Cynometra woodland of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest between Kilifi and Malindi.

    Over the past few decades, the IUCN says, the bird’s population has plummeted to dangerously low levels, raising the risk of extinction if further pressures on its habitat occur. The bird’s population is now estimated to be 2,500, and the numbers are falling.

    Apart from Arabuko-Sokoke, where about 1,000 pairs are estimated to remain, the Scops-owl is also found in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania, where a few hundred birds are thought to reside.

    According to the IUCN, global warming is affecting the population of birds like the Scops-owl through long-term drought and sudden extreme weather, which disrupt the natural environment for the birds. The situation is worsened by the destruction of habitats due to human population pressure.

    “This latest update of the IUCN Red List shows that birds are under enormous pressure from climate change,” said Jane Smart, head of IUCN’s species programme in a statement.

    “The IUCN Red List is the global standard when it comes to measuring species loss so we urge governments to take the information contained in it seriously and do their level best to protect the world’s birds.”

    According to the IUCN, another East African bird species that faces extinction is the African Green Broadbill, which is scientifically known as Pseudocalyptomena graueri, and whose home is in Uganda and the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

    IN UGANDA, THE BROADBILL IS FOUND in the southwestern districts around the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, while in the Congo it is found around the eastern Itombwe Mountains. The key danger to the species is that its habitat continues to be destroyed to make way for human habitation.

    “Species are being hit by the double whammy of habitat loss and climate change,” observed Dr Stuart Butchart of the international NGO BirdLife.

    “As populations become fragmented the effect of climate change can have an even greater impact, leading to an increased risk of local extinctions.”


  2. Namibia: Big Fight for Lesser Flamingo

    The Namibian (Windhoek)

    3 July 2008
    Posted to the web 3 July 2008

    Absalom Shigwedha

    Every breeding site of the Lesser Flamingoes in Africa needs protection as there are very few them on the continent.

    This appeal was made yesterday by Charlie Paxton of the Shamvura Camp in the Kavango Region.

    “Their breeding places are very few in Africa and every such site needs special protection,” she said.

    Both she and her husband, Mark Paxton, have given their individual votes of support to the recently launched Save The Flamingo Campaign (STFC), a conservation initiative aimed at addressing threats facing Lesser Flamingoes at South Africa’s Kamfers Dam (north of Kimberly).

    It is one of the world’s most important flamingo sites and is home to the largest permanent population of Lesser Flamingoes in southern Africa ; it is the only Lesser Flamingo breeding site in South Africa and one of only four in Africa.

    The other three are Namibia’s Etosha Pan, Botswana’s Sua Pan and Tanzania’s Lake Natron.

    The Kamfers Dam flamingoes are threatened by the deteriorating quality of the water because of the type of sewage effluent flowing into the dam, says the STFC.

    During a visit to the Homevale Sewerage Works on June 25, it was found that the bulk of the plant was not operational and that some of the infrastructure had been abandoned.

    “A high volume of extremely poor quality (raw) sewage is currently flowing into Kamfers Dam,” says the project.

    It says an incredible 9 000 chicks were produced on Kamfers Dam’s artificial island this year, a massive contribution to the declining population of southern Africa’s Lesser Flamingo, estimated to number 100 000 individuals.

    STFC says that despite years of negotiating with Kimberly’s Municipality (the Sol Plaatje Municipality) to improve the water quality flowing into Kamfers Dam, it continues to deteriorate – with severe health implications for the flamingoes, other birds and people living in neighbouring suburbs.

    In February, there was a severe algal bloom at Kamfers Dam that transformed the water into “pea soup”.

    Fortunately, the algae was not the severely toxic Microcystis-green algae, which has been implicated in causing mass mortalities of tens of thousands of Lesser Flamingos in East Africa.

    STFC says some of the dam’s young Lesser Flamingoes have swollen tibio-tarsal joints and lesions on their legs, conditions which could be attributed to the dam’s water quality.

    These abnormalities and their causes are currently being investigated by scientists and veterinary pathologists.

    “If the flamingoes are being negatively affected, the poor water quality is almost certainly having a detrimental affect on the dam’s other water birds (68 different species recorded at Kamfers Dam) and other aquatic life,” says STFC People in neighbouring suburbs have at times had to endure extremely unpleasant smells when hydrogen sulphide gasses are produced by rotting algae and this affects their quality of life.

    One of the aims of the campaign is to encourage the Kimberly Municipality to hand over the management of the sewerage works to an independent management entity.

    This would ensure better management of the sewerage works, upgrading, maintenance and recommissioning of the abandoned infrastructure.

    This is necessary to ensure that the water is treated to prescribed Department of Water Affairs and Forestry standards, so that it is acceptable for birds and other aquatic life.

    Lesser Flamingoes are listed as “near threatened” in all national and international red date books.

    On the conservation status of Namibia’s Lesser Flamingoes, the Chief Warden Science at the Etosha Ecological Institute Wilferd Versfeld, said the conservation of the birds was made difficult by the fact that their breeding depends on flood water.

    So when no flood water is received, it makes it difficult for them to breed.

    “Apart from wetland counts twice a year and monitoring, there was nothing more we can do,” he said.

    Versfeld said this had led to the absence of a number of Lesser Flamingoes in the country, “as they keep on flying back to Botswana”.


  3. Pingback: Orange spoonbill in the Netherlands | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Lake Natron wildlife protection in Tanzania | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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