Flamingos discover refuge in Mexico

As a lot as Florida is related to these humorous pink birds, maybe it’s higher to consider them as Mexican.

The world has six species of flamingos, however the American flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) are well-known for his or her shade, which is a results of their eating regimen, not genetics. The Worldwide Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that there are over 200,000 of the birds over their dwelling vary that extends from southern Florida, over the Caribbean and into South America. Precise numbers are arduous to return by as a result of the birds are migratory, flying anyplace from a whole bunch to hundreds of kilometers to reap the benefits of sure feeding grounds and nesting websites in a number of international locations.

Ría Lagartos is a very powerful breeding floor for American flamingos and the second most necessary on this planet. (All images courtesy of the Pedro y Elena Hernández Basis)

Estimates as to what number of contact down in Mexico vary anyplace from 20,000 to about 40,000, linking Mexico to the flamingos’ ecological area of interest. Because of this, Mexico works each inside its borders and past to higher perceive and preserve the species. 

Flamingos congregate on the northern coast of the Yucatán peninsula, specifically 4 necessary federally-protected areas: Los Petenes, on the northern fringe of Campeche; Ría Celestún Biosphere on the western fringe of Yucatán (state), Ría Lagartos on the jap facet of the identical and Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Safety space in northern Quintana Roo. 

Petén, Celestún and Yum Balam are all stopovers and feeding areas for migrating flamingos, however Ría Largartos is especially necessary as a result of it’s Mexico’s principal nesting web site, and the second most necessary after Cuba. 

All of those websites enable guests, however what number of flamingos you may see will range relying  on the time of yr and the standard of feeding in any given yr. The 2 hottest are Celestún, finest  from October to April, and Ría Lagartos, throughout the breeding season from April to August/September. 

Conanp works intently with non-profits just like the Pedro y Elena Hernández Basis to take care of efforts to study flamingos and the way finest to guard them.

Though not thought of endangered internationally, the Mexican Surroundings and Pure Sources Ministry (Semarnat) lists them as protected, as human actions equivalent to boating and water contamination negatively affect their habitats. The birds are delicate to each as a result of they dwell and feed in shallow brackish waters on the coast, straining larvae, small crustaceans and extra from the sediment they kick up. 

Conservation efforts have been happening in Mexico for many years, and could also be why there are any wild flamingos in any respect in the USA.

Though tagging and monitoring has been going for greater than twenty years, efforts actually stepped up when the Nationwide Fee for Protected Pure Areas (Conanp) teamed up with the Pedro and Elena Hernández Basis in 2015, bringing in help from different non-profits and Mexican firms to systematically examine the birds and enhance their Yucatán habitats. These organizations embrace the Nationwide Autonomous College of México (UNAM), and tourism heavyweights such because the Xcaret Group and the Holbox Resort Affiliation. 

The Hernández Basis is finest generally known as the principal caretakers of the Edward James Gardens in Xilitla, nevertheless it was based in 2002 by an entrepreneurial household primarily based in northern Veracruz. Most of their work focuses on the oil-rich Gulf coast, in initiatives associated to the surroundings and sustainable improvement for native populations. Flamingos are one in every of their principal considerations.

Grade faculty academic efforts close to flamingo feeding and breeding web site are an necessary method to preserve the species as most of their hazard comes from human actions.

The partnership’s efforts have found that some birds migrate so far as 5000 km they usually documented one 22 year-old particular person in 2022, due to his identification bands. 

Habitat work contains each the monitoring and restoration of feeding and breeding grounds within the 4 reserves and different areas, particularly the water high quality in Ría Lagartos due to its significance as a breeding web site. 

However conservation additionally means working with native communities. Academic efforts are aimed toward each faculty kids and adults to extend consciousness of the birds’ significance. It additionally contains supporting efforts to develop eco-friendly financial initiatives to minimize the necessity to harm wetlands, and even sterilization of native cats and canines to scale back predatory strain on the birds. 

Conanp works intently with non-profits just like the Pedro y Elena Hernández Basis to take care of efforts to study flamingos and the way finest to guard them.

Their efforts have paid off. Not solely are most of the feeding and breeding grounds in higher situation, there may be extra public help for safeguarding the birds. 

The Basis’s and authorities’s efforts are headquartered in Casa Artemia in El Cuyo, which México Desconocido journal declares a “chicken paradise.” It’s primarily a scientific analysis facility, nevertheless it additionally provides ecologically-friendly lodging to guests by way of a number of on-line reserving websites. It additionally works with native tour operators to supply kayaking, boating and climbing alternatives. 

So how does all of this slot in with flamingos in Florida? You is likely to be shocked (I used to be) to seek out out that flamingos had been worn out by looking within the state by the top of the nineteenth century, and till very lately, all Florida flamingos had been captive populations largely for vacationers. They’d been absent from the ecosystem for therefore lengthy that when the primary wild ones began displaying up within the very starting of this century, with bands indicating that they had been born in Mexico, native authorities thought they had been invasive. 

A flamingo tends to its chick on the Ría Lagarto reserve in Mexico.

However the information gathered in Mexico and different areas proved that these flamingos had been merely following their pure migratory instincts, and did certainly belong in Floridian shallows. Authorities have since up to date their insurance policies and conservation efforts have begun to extend wild populations within the Everglades and elsewhere. It received’t be straightforward, nonetheless. Florida has improvement pressures that Mexico’s Yucatán has been capable of keep away from to date.

Mexico has performed a particularly necessary function within the understanding and appreciation of the flamingo in a minimum of three international locations. And with pleasant relations with each the USA and Cuba, it’s in a singular place to make it possible for there are large flocks of flamingos for the marvel of future generations.

Leigh Thelmadatter arrived in Mexico over 20 years in the past and fell in love with the land and the tradition specifically its handcrafts and artwork. She is the creator of Mexican Cartonería: Paper, Paste and Fiesta (Schiffer 2019). Her tradition column seems frequently on Mexico Information Every day.

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