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Great Rann of Kutch: 60k lesser flamingo chicks emerge from new nesting ground

Flamingos are very sensitive and abandon their eggs if their nest is disturbed. Some eggs also get washed away due to flooding in the desert, forest officers say. It takes around four weeks for the eggs to hatch

Written by Gopal B Kateshiya | Rajkot |
Updated: January 25, 2021 4:05:09 am
Great Rann of Kutch, flamingos, flamingos in Great Rann of Kutch, flamingo breeding, flamingos in gujarat, indian express newsAn adult lesser flamingo with a flock of chicks in the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. (Courtesy: Gujarat forest department)

After the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK), lesser flamingos have found a new exclusive nesting ground in Kuda stretch of the Great Rann of Kutch (GRK) from where around 60,000 chicks have emerged this season, according to forest officers and experts.

Between August and September 2020, around 1,00,000 nests were found by forest officials and experts during their visits to the Kuda area in GRK in eastern Kutch. The breeding attempt by the birds in this new area has been successful for the second consecutive year, they said. Most of the chicks hatched in this site have become juveniles and have already flown to foraging grounds.

LRK is a known nesting site of lesser flamingos while Anda Bet, also known as the Flamingo City in GRK, has been an exclusive nesting site of greater flamingos. GRK also has some grounds where mixed nesting of greater flamingos as well as lesser flamingos takes place.

“We have been observing nesting in Kuda in GRK for the past four years. But it was unique this year as out of the estimated 1,00,000 nests, only around 2,000 to 3,000 were of greater flamingos. The rest were of lesser flamingos. This is a marked difference from the previous years. For example, out of the estimated 63,000 nests observed at this site last year, around 40 per cent were of greater flamingos. But this year, it has reduced to just a fraction,” Uday Vora, a retired forest officer who has been visiting GRK and LRK for more than two decades, told The Indian Express.

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Vora said that the phenomenon needs to be studied before one can draw any conclusion about more number of lesser flamingos preferring new site for nesting and the number of nests of greater flamingos going down.

Anita Karn, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Kutch territorial forest circle, agrees. “Anda Bet has been there for decades as an established nesting site of greater flamingos. But recently, we have been observing lots of lesser flamingos nesting in Kuda. The birds have been using a road abandoned by BSF (Border Security Force) for nesting and it is developing as a very good site,” Karn said adding, by recent, she meant four to five years.

The GRK and LRK are believed to be the largest nesting grounds of flamingos in Asia. Flamingos breed only when ideal conditions such as water levels in the rann, availability of food etc prevail in and around their nesting colonies. “But breeding attempts have remained successful for the past two seasons as monsoon has been good,” the CCF further said.

Some rivers from north Gujarat and Saurashtra tail into the LRK and GRK respectively, causing flooding in the twin deserts during monsoon. But water levels start reducing as dry season sets in, making the water in the area brackish.

Vora added that in the traditional nesting sites such as Flamingo City, the hatching ratio is around 80 per cent but in Kuda, it was around 60 per cent this breeding season.
Harsh Thakkar, deputy conservator of Kutch (east) forest division, said that they are observing around two lakh flamingo chicks in the GRK. “We observed around two lakh nests in Kuda area and out of them, only around 10,000 were of greater flamingos. At least three breeding cycles also took place at the Anda Bet. From the number of chicks that we are observing in foraging grounds, it appears that breeding could have taken place at other sites also,” said Thakkar.

Flamingos are very sensitive and abandon their eggs if their nest is disturbed. Some eggs also get washed away due to flooding in the desert, forest officers say. It takes around four weeks for the eggs to hatch. Once a hatchling emerges from the egg, one parent leaves for foraging while the other stays behind, caring for the young one. Chicks of an entire colony go forag.

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