Flamingo populations are in need of protection all around the globe. Flock numbers have been fluctuating because of habitat loss, pollution, predators, lack of food resources and poachers. Conservation of all flamingo species is vital to ensuring the health of the entire breed not just to save them from endangerment, but to keep them from becoming endangered or threatened.
While the flamingo is not considered endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a conservation organization, called The World Conservation Union, lists some species of flamingo as near threatened and one species as vulnerable to extinction. Flamingos are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act of 1918, though, and this reduces the threat of poachers, but does not eliminate the problem as many are still hunted illegally today.
The James’s Flamingo has always existed in small numbers, but the species was once thought to be extinct in 1924. Then, a James’s Flamingo flock was found living with Chilean Flamingos in South America in 1957. Since then, strides have been made to ensure the survival of the species.
Under The World Conservation Union’s list, the American Flamingo and the Greater Flamingo are listed as “least concern.” The Greater Flamingo is the most widespread of the flamingo species and exists in the millions around the globe. This number is decreasing, though.
The Chilean Flamingo has also decreased in numbers over the years like the Greater Flamingo. The Chilean Flamingo group is small in numbers to begin with. The February 2010 earthquake shook Chile and interrupted the Chilean National Zoo’s progress with the Chilean Flamingo species. The Fort Worth Zoo offered help and assistance for the zoo to get back on its feet.
Emperors in Rome once considered flamingo tongues a delicacy. Tongues would be served as a dish with other delicacies of the time. Now, flamingos are hunted for their colorful feathers. These birds, with their pink color, stand out and are easy for predator and poachers to spot.
Zoo’s Attempts At Conservation
Zoos around the world have found success in conserving flamingos. Flamingos can thrive and multiply in captivity. Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay has the largest flock of American Flamingo in the entire world with more than 300 flamingos. These flamingos are separated into two groups in the park where the can thrive on different diet and not compete with each other for food and resources.
Almost every species has been successfully bred in captivity. The Lesser Flamingo, though, is more difficult to breed in captivity and Sea World of California was the first zoological institutions to try and complete the breeding of the Lesser Flamingo successfully. Now, other zoos like the Fort Worth Zoo have the breed. The Fort Worth Zoo contains three of the six flamingo species to include the Lesser Flamingo, the Greater Flamingo and the Chilean Flamingo. Fort Worth has become the best zoo in the world at breeding the Lesser Flamingo.
There are also parks when flamingos are protected. Hialeah Park in Miami, Florida has a group of American Flamingos that had approximately 500 flamingos. Here they have the Hialeah Park Flamingo Consortium. This consortium provides flamingos to parks like Sea World to ensure the population of captive flamingos.
Current research on how to better manage flamingo populations stands as the best hope for the survival of the species. Scientists are learning more about the previously elusive creatures and how these flocks can be preserved. Breeding in captivity ensures the survival of the breed because it takes away the threat of drought, famine and predators.