Many of the Lesser Flamingo chicks that survived mercy flights to rehabilitation centres around the country from Kimberley, are in the clear again and going back home.
"It was quite intense," said Nicky Stander, rehabilitation manager at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in Cape Town.
Earlier this year, a country-wide network of volunteers and sponsors came to the rescue of the abandoned chicks.
Their mothers had left them in their nests when Kimberley's Kamfer dam dried up. The sight of thousands of the flamingos on the dam has been a spectacle long enjoyed by visitors and residents in Kimberley.
However, near-tragedy struck in January when the dam dried up, and the abandoned flamingo chicks were unable to care for themselves.
Sadly, not all survived the mercy flights around the country, and more succumbed during rehabilitation.
However, those who made it through the round-the-clock feeds and weigh-ins, are being flown back to Kimberley in batches for a short period of quarantine and monitoring, and then they will be free again.
Stander said that of the around 500 chicks flown to them, 42 flew home from SANCCOB in Table View last week and another 49 will be ready to go home in the first week of May.
"All of the facilities around South Africa that were holding chicks agreed on the criteria to transfer them back," said Stander.
The facilities included uShaka Sea World aquarium in Durban, the National Zoo in Pretoria, the World of Birds in Hout Bay, and Onderstepoort Veterinary facility outside Pretoria. Even a well-known private investigator assisted, as well as private pilots, and hundreds of volunteers and donors.
There were fund-raising activities for the food and other supplies the chicks needed to get through the crucial first weeks of life.
Stander said the volunteers at SANCCOB were sad to say goodbye to the chicks that survived.
"They have become quite attached to these pink fluffs."
Ann Kunz of the SA Association for Marine Biological Research, which runs uShaka Sea World, said 78 out of 250 have been sent back to Kimberley after "receiving their flying colours".
Kunz said everybody was rooting for their little charges to get flight ready again.
Kimberley's SPCA posted on Facebook: "We are waiting in anticipation for the rest of the returning chicks."
Read this report on News24Wire.com.
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