Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Flamingo tagged in Abu Dhabi migrates 1,300 kilometres

Bird was one of ten released from Al Wathba Wetland Reserve and the Bul Syayeef Marine Protected Area

EAD staff releasing a tagged flamingo as part of Abu Dhabi Birdathon initiative. Courtesy Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi
EAD staff releasing a tagged flamingo as part of Abu Dhabi Birdathon initiative. Courtesy Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi

An adventurous flamingo tagged in Abu Dhabi has migrated a phenomenal 1,300 kilometres all the way to Iran.

The bird was one of ten released from Al Wathba Wetland Reserve and the Bul Syayeef Marine Protected Area off the Abu Dhabi coast in November last year.

Known as the "birdathon", the project was developed by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi to raise awareness about the importance of wetlands.

The ten were assigned to Abu Dhabi government bodies and the flamingo representing Abu Dhabi Police won the race, which ended on March 31. Called "Flamingo 5", it was tagged at Al Wathba and you can track the progress of the flamingos here.

In second place was Etihad Airways’ flamingo named Amelia, which travelled more than 200km to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai. In third place was Abu Dhabi Airports Company’s "Flamingo 8", which remained in Abu Dhabi and covered a distance of 142km.

A flamingo representing Abu Dhabi Police migrated 1,300km from Al Wathba Wetland Reserve to Iran.   
A flamingo representing Abu Dhabi Police migrated 1,300km from Al Wathba Wetland Reserve to Iran.   

The EAD has been tagging and tracking the movement of greater flamingos through its satellite tracking programme since 2005. Each winter, thousands of flamingos return to the UAE, with about 4,000 spending the season at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, which has become the only site in the Arabian Gulf where these birds breed regularly. Almost half of the population leaves during the summer for anywhere from South Africa to Kazakhstan.

Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, acting secretary general of the EAD, said it was exciting to track their journey.

"Along with our employees and the wider public, we were excited to follow their individual journeys to learn more about the species’ activities in the region and to promote this incredible phenomenon, which demonstrates the critical role our wetlands play in sustaining a diverse ecosystem of birds, animals, plants and marine life.

Al Wathba is one of nine “wetlands of international importance” in the UAE. They are also known as Ramsar sites, after the Iranian city where the convention on international standards was agreed in 1971.

The reserve is home to more than 260 birds besides the flamingo, 320 invertebrates, 35 plants, 16 reptiles and 10 mammal species. Last year, 601 flamingo chicks hatched at the reserve – the highest number ever recorded so far. The site also features on the "green list of protected and conserved areas" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Al Wathba will close to visitors from May 1 and will reopen in October. At least 7,000 people visited over the season.

Updated: April 21, 2019 10:26 PM

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