Malnourishment, theft, scams make flamingo rescue more challenging

Mike Bolhuis with the chick flamingos rescued early last month. Photo: Facebook

Mike Bolhuis with the chick flamingos rescued early last month. Photo: Facebook

In January, Mike Bolhuis saved almost 1,000 lesser flamingos from the drought-stricken Kamfers dam in Kimberley.

Though the autopsy results are still outstanding, the recent deaths of flamingos rescued by the Mike Bolhuis-led project have been attributed to the harsh conditions they were exposed to.

“Those birds were in poor health,” Bolhuis told Pretoria North Rekord earlier this week.

He said the team of doctors and veterinarians he was working with established the birds were extremely dehydrated, underfed, malnourished, and their eyesight damaged by the harsh exposure to the sun.

ALSO READ: Another massive flamingo rescue could be on the cards

The post-mortem report was delayed due to the head pathologist being a victim of crime last week.

“Her laptop, cellphone, and thesis were stolen on her way home,” Bolhuis said.

Bolhuis said the surviving flamingos were adapting well and making progress.

In January, Bolhuis saved almost 1,000 so-called “lesser flamingos” from the drought-stricken Kamfers dam in Kimberley. They were taken to various locations around Pretoria, including his smallholding in Leeuwfontein.

Bolhuis also said he was keen to not only investigate why the rescue “took too long to happen, but also why it was necessary to rescue the birds in the first place”.

“This rescue should’ve started in 2016, so why did nothing happen for three years?”

Bolhuis said birdlife experts should account for why the rescue was neglected for so long, and why they only jumped onto the bandwagon of his rescue.

“If you’re an expert, how didn’t you realise this year was going to be the worst?”

Bolhuis extended his gratitude to everyone who has assisted in making his rescue project a success thus far.

“We’ve received so much from the public, I’m grateful to everyone who helped us,” he said.

In a previous story, Bolhuis warned of conmen using the project’s name to scam people.

“It has come to our attention that someone was calling on potential donors to help with donations, but giving them an unauthorised banking account number.”

He said projects like these usually got people emotional and scammers preyed on those emotions.

“We are urging the public to please verify that the banking details are indeed the ones we provided. If you are uncertain please contact us directly to make sure.”

Bolhuis said a similar situation had unfolded under the guise of Save the Rhino, where people were scamming those who were willing to help.

“It is unacceptable that these individuals are using such projects for their own personal gain. I want to send a warning to them. They will be identified and steps will be taken against them.”

Bolhuis said many of the parents of the transferred chicks had died due to drought.

The Kamfers Dam serves as an important breeding site for the lesser flamingo, however, a lack of rain, exacerbated by sewage effluent problems in the area, has resulted in the dam drying up, becoming a hostile environment for flamingo chicks.

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