Rangers, locals join hands to save hundreds of flamingo chicks

August 18, 2017

TEHRAN — Flamingo chicks which were stranded in the briny shallow waters of Bakhtegan Lake in Fars province have been saved by the help of rangers and the local people.

The chicks were doomed to face a tragic death if they were left helpless.

In a collaborative effort the villagers and the rangers prevented death of 1,000 flamingo chicks which were stuck in the extremely shallow briny leftover water of the lake. 

Bakhtegan Lake was a salt lake in Fars Province, southern Iran. With a surface area of 3,500 square kilometers it was once Iran's second-largest lake. It was fed by the Kor River. Several dams on the river had significantly reduced water flow into the lake, increasing its salinity and endangering the lake's populations of flamingos and other migratory birds. 

Lake Bakhtegan is now completely dry.

Taking more water out of the salt lake watershed than is flowing into it, diverting the river water (which would normally fill the lake) and using it for farming, industry, and human consumption, digging numerous wells, etc. have completely depleted the lake. 

However, a rather high precipitation in the mid-spring had filled the lake to some extent and attracted flamingos. The birds started to nest and lay eggs, but a rise in temperature and evaporation allowed salts and minerals to concentrate in the lake and flamingo chicks, unable to fly, get stuck in the lake. 

Nabiollah Moradi, the caretaker of the department of environment in Fars province, said rangers soon spotted that flamingo chicks, unable to fly, were dying one after another.

“So we decided to save the chicks by removing them from the lake, washing them and releasing them in the western parts of the lake where there is enough water for them to survive, however, we feared that their parents would never show up again to feed the chick and that they die,” Moradi explained.

“So we decided to purchase water from the villagers and transfer it to the lake to buy some time for the chick to fly away” and fortunately the villagers themselves offered to help, he added.

Some 40 to 50 villagers helped dig canals during the nights, as it was very hot during the day, and in two weeks the lake was filled with enough water for the baby flamingos to wash themselves and escape death, he stated.

Moradi further regretted the fact that some 40 to 50 baby flamingos died, however some 1,000 were saved from certain death. 

“What happened to Bakhtegan Lake is the result of flawed policies in 1980s and 1990s which have produced such adverse outcomes that can’t be reversed anymore,” he lamented. 

In a like event in 2007 some 3,000 flamingo chicks died in Bakhtegan Lake. 

MQ/PA

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