3 April 2009
Web surfers from around the world can now view the antics of some 20&nbps;000 lesser flamingos, following the installation of a state-of-the-art webcam on the famous flamingo breeding island at Kimberley’s Kamfers Dam.
Broadcast via the Africam website, users are able to choose between live-streaming or static images that are refreshed every 10 seconds.
The equipment, installed in late January, has numerous sophisticated functions, including pan, tilt and zoom, with many aspects of the previously unseen behaviour of lesser flamingos are now available to wildlife enthusiasts around the world.
In addition, infrared lights allow for 24-hour-a-day viewing, while a microphone allows one to hear the hustle and bustle of life in the flamingo colony.
The webcam equipment was sponsored by Nedbank Capital, Ekapa Mining and Nugen, while Herbert and Brenda Booth, Kamfers Dams’ landowners, provided assistance and logistical support.
Save the flamingo
The project was coordinated by the Save the Flamingo Association, a group of concerned people, businesses and organisations who are committed to ensuring the conservation of Kamfers Dam and its flamingos and other water birds.
The artificial flamingo breeding island, the first such structure for lesser flamingos in the world, was funded and constructed by Ekapa Mining in September 2006.
Artificial breeding island
The lesser flamingos bred successfully on the island last year, producing around 9 000 chicks. Breeding events are irregular at other sites; for example, it is only successful every 12 years at the Etosha Pan in Namibia.
“Kamfers Dam is the only breeding locality for Lesser Flamingos in South Africa, and one of only four breeding localities in Africa,” says BirdLife South Africa executive director Mark Anderson. “This globally near-threatened species needs active conservation management, as the population is declining and there are very few breeding sites.”
As lesser flamingos only breed at vast, open pans and lakes, there has until now been no opportunity to view the breeding close-up and also to study the birds’ biology.
Africam’s site was visited by 4.5-million viewers from 202 countries during 2008, so the webcam offers many opportunities to create awareness about these interesting birds.
Ornithologists will also use the camera to obtain much-needed scientific information about the flamingos’ breeding biology.
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