x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Record numbers of flamingos breeding at Abu Dhabi reserve

More than 200 chicks were observed in the protected area between June 1 and July 16 this year - as opposed to 39 during last year's breeding season.

More than 200 flamingo chicks have been seen in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in the past six weeks.  Photo courtesy Environment Agency Abu Dhabi
More than 200 flamingo chicks have been seen in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in the past six weeks. Photo courtesy Environment Agency Abu Dhabi

Flamingos are breeding in record numbers at Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba Wetland Reserve.

More than 200 chicks were seen in the protected area between June 1 and July 16 this year, compared with 39 during last year’s breeding season.

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi or Ead, attributed the increase to improvements made at the site.

“This is the biggest breeding of flamingos ever recorded in the reserve and is a result of sustained efforts to improve habitat conditions and management in the reserve,” said Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, executive director at the agency’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity sector.

“This record further enhances Al Wathba’s status as a key bird site.”

Flamingos first bred successfully at the reserve in 1998, which helped to establish the site’s protected status.

In April this year the area was included in the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which includes more than 2,000 sites across the world.

“The landscape around Al Wathba has changed considerably over the past decade and we are making sure that the necessary resources are allocated to the reserve to ensure its proper protection,” said Dr Al Dhaheri.

“Protecting such an area is crucial in the preservation of Abu Dhabi’s biodiversity.”

The agency monitors and tracks the birds, water quality at the reserve and the populations of brine shrimp on which the flamingos rely for food.

Al Wathba is also home to 237 species of invertebrates, 11 of mammals, 10 of reptiles and more than 250 species of birds.

An imposing bird up to 150 centimetres tall, the Greater flamingo is the largest of all the species.

It has a long slender neck and plumage that varies from white to pinkish in colour, depending on the birds’ diet. Chicks are usually grey.

Because of its broad distribution, the Greater flamingo is not considered threatened globally, or in the UAE.

Flamingos can be observed all year in lagoons, fresh and salt waters of artificial wetlands, and even close to human settlements, as is the case at Dubai’s Ras Al Khor wetland reserve.

But many of their wetland habitats are under threat.

While the birds may stay in one area, they travel to various wetlands, some quite far apart, in search of food.

vtodorova@thenational.ae