Natron’s Lesser Flamingo Action Plan Completed

This news is taken from BirdLife’s Think Pink Campaign

18-02-2010

The 2010 World Wetlands Day celebrations in Tanzania focussed on a meeting to support the conservation of Lesser Flamingo, Phoenicopterus minor, (Near Threatened) through the completion of a National Single Species Action Plan.

“This is an important step in ensuring the protection of this important species not only for Tanzania but also for the world”, said Lota Melamari – CEO of Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST, BirdLife Partner). “This action plan provides Tanzania with an opportunity to ensure that threats facing Lesser Flamingo are thoroughly addressed”, he added.

Tanzania is home to the most important breeding site in the world for Lesser Flamingo – Lake Natron. Of the world’s global population of Lesser Flamingo, 75% breed at Lake Natron.

These flamingos drew global attention when a proposal to build a soda ash processing plant at Lake Natron came to light in 2006. The global community, led by BirdLife International, WCST, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, BirdLife in the UK), and the Lake Natron Consultative Group opposed the plans citing serious threats to the critical flamingo breeding site.

During the meeting, actions were agreed aimed at ensuring that the species is protected at Lake Natron and eleven other lakes within Tanzania. “It is commendable that Tanzania now has developed an action plan for Lesser Flamingo”, said Paul Kariuki Ndang’ang’a of BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat. “It is critical to put in place necessary measures to begin implementation immediately.”

“This is an important step in ensuring the protection of this important species not only for Tanzania but also for the world” —Lota Melamari, Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania

The meeting was held at the Lake Manyara National Park Hostel, and participants included local community groups such as the Ilkisongo Pastoralists Initiatives. Other participants included: local government officials, Protected Area managers, officials from the Wildlife Division and the Ministry of Environment, academic institutions and BirdLife Partners, WCST and the RSPB.

“It is fantastic to see such wide ranging support for the finalisation of the plan”, added Sarah Sanders – Head of RSPB Country Programmes Unit. “It is now down to all of us to make sure that the plan is not put on a shelf but implemented so the conservation of Lesser Flamingo is secured in the long-term.”

Participants had a chance to visit Lake Manyara National Park to see flamingos and observed fascinating pairing and mating rituals. The consultative meeting was organised through the National Wetlands Working Group led by the WCST and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute under the auspices of the Wetlands Unit of Tanzania’s Wildlife Division.

The facilitators were drawn from the BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat who also used the opportunity to launch a three year project to enhance the conservation of Lake Natron Ramsar Site, funded by the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation. Local participants were kindly supported by the Wetlands Unit of Tanzania’s Wildlife Division and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

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