Development on the banks of Kamfers Dam outside the Northern Cape capital of Kimberley is threatening the only breeding population of Lesser Flamingos in South Africa. Kamfers Dam supports one of only four breeding populations in Africa. These birds bred during 2008, with an incredible 9000 chicks hatching on the dam’s artificial flamingo breeding island. It is anticipated that regular breeding will reverse the negative population trend of this globally “near threatened” species.
Kamfers Dam is currently the depository for raw sewerage that flows from the currently dysfunctional treatment plant, a result of poor management of the sewerage works by the Sol Plaatje Municipality. The increased constant eutrofication has lead to severe algal blooms and may be responsible for the current lesions and abnormalities being recorded on some of the Lesser Flamingos.
According to BirdLife International, the African population of the Lesser Flamingo is declining due to a number of threats amongst which development and water pollution are paramount. Proposed housing developments around Kamfers Dam will destroy approximately 350 hectares of the dam’s buffer zone. Despite the fact that this development is against Kimberley’s Spatial Development Framework, the Sol Plaatje Municipality is adamant to steam ahead with it thereby ignoring South Africa’s obligation and commitment to abide by and honour international conventions, such as the Convention on Migratory Species and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Political leadership is failing South Africa in allowing and promoting unsound development that directly impacts on globally threatened birds.
BirdLife South Africa calls on the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to intervene and not to approve the proposed construction of housing developments in the Kamfers Dam buffer zone. We also call on the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry to issue directives to the Sol Plaatje Municipality to manage the sewerage treatment plant effectively and terminate the current pollution of Kamfers Dam. The municipality has an obligation to its ratepayers and the environment to ensure sound water management.
Should the pathological tests prove that the abnormalities observed in the Lesser Flamingos are due to deteriorating water quality, then many other waterbird species and even the entire aquatic system may be at risk. Concerned people are encouraged to visit the Save the Flamingo website (www.savetheflamingo.co.za), where one can obtain more information about Kamfers Dam, its flamingos and the serious threats to this wetland. Importantly, concerned people are asked to sign the online petition and to donate funds towards this important cause.