Fran Kirsten
2 minute read
23 May 2016
2:34 pm

Flamingos return to Garden Route wetlands

Fran Kirsten

Dead birds were collected over the past 18 months and sent to various laboratories for tests to ascertain the causes of death.

Flamingos have returned to the Garden Route after disappearing from waterways following a death. Photo: iStock Photo.

Following the death of a flamingo in Langvlei close to Wildernis, the flock that had been visiting the area disappeared for a while, but to the delight of local residents these flamingos have been seen feeding on both Langvlei and Rondevlei rivers last week.

At the time of the flamingo’s death, SA National Parks (SANParks) Garden Route spokesperson Nandi Mgwadlamba said the flamingo was the fourth bird to be found dead in the area, George Herald reported.

She added that aquatic scientists had submitted dead birds collected over the past 18 months to various laboratories for tests to ascertain the causes of the death.

“Samples were tested for avian flu, Newcastle disease and avian botulism. All tests came back negative, though clinical symptoms displayed by affected birds indicate avian botulism as the likely cause of death,” Mgwadlamba said.

At the time she added that scientists suspected natural causes could have triggered the outbreak, “such as low water levels coupled with warm weather”. The tests to determine the cause of the death of the single flamingo and the other three birds have not yet been completed.

Lead aquatic scientist Ian Russell says pH levels, the levels of salinity in the water and the presence of organic plant material are not substantially different this year to what they were last year. He has also observed that birds are dying in localised areas (Rondevlei, Langvlei and Eilandvlei only).

“No dead birds were collected in Swartvlei,” Mgwardlamba said. She added that the most appropriate response thus far to break the cycle of the transmission of any possible disease was to call SANParks, who would cautiously pick up dead birds immediately, thus removing them from the system in time for illnesses not to spread to other birds.

While the scientists puzzle about the cause of the latest avian deaths in the area, residents are enjoying the magnificence of the flamingos.

Read More: What’s killing our flamingos?

– Caxton News Service