UAE | Environment

Flamingo flock flourishes at Al Wathba reserve

Breeding programme at sanctuary sees 17 hatchlings added to 2,000-strong population

  • By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 18:37 August 13, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit:
  • The Al Wathba reserve in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi: The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve which has the distinction of providing favourable conditions for several rare species in the Arabian Peninsula since 1922 recently saw its collection of Greater Flamingos swell by 17.

This is third time the flamingo species has successfully bred at the Al Wathba reserve in Abu Dhabi since 1998, the Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi (EAD) revealed on Monday.

The birds chose a site to nest that has been associated with two successful breeding programmes in 1998-99 and in 2011. The flamingo population of around 2,000 laid some 100 eggs of which 17 hatched. The first eggs were spotted during the last week in May and the first hatchlings were recorded on June 27. More chicks hatched in the following days.

Staff at the reserve believe the number 17 is lucky for their conservation programme. “During the the nesting season last year and this year the number of chicks was the same — 17,” a scientist said.

Although a flamingo breeding programme in 1993 at Al Wathba — the first such known effort in the Arabian Peninsula since 1922 — was marred by human interference after a chick had hatched, the reserve made amends and gained international recognition after it bred Greater flamingos in 1998-1999.

About six or seven chicks hatched then in the first known successful breeding of flamingos in the Arabian peninsula in 76 years [since 1922], a scientist told Gulf News. “The 1993 breeding attempt was foiled because the site was not a protected area then and people were driving through the area. But the status of being a protected area has started paying its dividends,” said Dr Shahid Khan, associate scientist at the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, which is a 45 minutes drive from Abu Dhabi city, was declared protected by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1998.

“It has become increasingly evident that the protection of such areas is crucial in ensuring the preservation of our environment as our economy continues to grow,” said Dr Shaikha Salem Al Daheri, executive director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.

“Monitoring of water quality and artemia, a key food source for flamingos has helped us in improving the overall management of the reserve enabling flamingos to successfully breed,” she said.

“Our flamingo monitoring and tracking programme and the valuable data that has been collected over the past few years has helped us in monitoring trends in numbers and improved protection of their habitat,” she added.

— With inputs from Maisoon Mubarak, Intern at Gulf News

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