This year, for the first time, a small colony of about one hundred Greater Flamingo nested successfully in the Korba Lagoons, northern Tunisia. Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO, BirdLife in Tunisia) quickly mobilized its members and partners to help ring 45 young flamingos, making this also the first time flamingos have been ringed in Tunisia. Ringing the flamingos was a big communual operation involving 80 people, with some volunteers wading into the lagoon to herd the birds.
The project Development of eco-tourism activities for the conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas in northern Tunisia, implemented by AAO and four local Tunisian organisations, and funded by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF), largely contributed to the discovery and monitoring of this small colony of flamingos. Through the project AAO have increased local capacity for conservation activities, and now have Local Conservation Groups (LCGs) who survey and care for key sites such as the Korba Lagoons, an Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA).
This new colony is exciting for AAO, who recorded the last successful breeding of flamingos in Tunisia in 2007 at Thyna Salines.
“Flamingos often return to their nesting site to breed”, said Hichem Azafzaf, Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO). “So we hope that through our project to develop ecotourism, we can ensure that Korba Lagoons remain an attractive and biodiversity-rich wintering and breeding site for flamingos to return in the coming years.”
Ringing birds involves fitting a uniquely coded plastic coloured tag to a bird’s leg, which allows a vast network of observers to trace the bird’s movements for conservation science. Young flamingos are covered in grey feathers; it is only after 4 - 7 years that they finally develop their splendid pink plumage which they get from carotenoid pigments in the organisms that live in their feeding grounds.
The Secretary of State for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Mounir Majdoub, helped with the ringing and highlighted the importance of supporting environmental action. This operation also served to raise awareness of the importance of the lagoons and the need for the protection of critical ecosystems in the western Mediterranean.
AAO would also like to that Tour du Valat, who provided technical and scientific support; the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, who provided financial support; the Coastal Protection and Planning Agency and the Forestry Office, who provided support as managers of the site; and the Local Conservation Group, Association Tunisienne de Protection de la Nature et de l’Environnement de Korba.