Photo: Agostinho Gomes

Flamingos found breeding in Portugal for the first time

Two greater flamingo colonies are breeding successfully for the first time in Portugal, the National Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) has announced.

“In the last few years, the population of flamingos has been increasing in Portugal, including in wetlands where they were rarely found,” explains the institute.

“However, despite this significant increase, this species, which is emblematic and attracts widespread researchers’ interest, had yet to successfully reproduce in Portugal,” it adds.

Why this has now changed is still unknown, ICNF says.

Researchers believe that an increase in areas where this species (Phoenicopterus roseus) can eat and rest may be responsible for its growing numbers in Portugal, as well as a “reduction in human activity” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

It is also common knowledge amongst the scientific community that the areas where these long-legged birds usually reproduce have been “feeling the effects of droughts” for many years now, the institute says.

Forest fires, contaminated water and the destruction of habitats may also have affected their normal breeding grounds, it adds.

“Without the needed ecological conditions, flamingos do not have a place to breed which is why they seek other locations where they can feed and breed, such as in Portugal, where there are areas with plentiful food sources,” ICNF explains.

For now, two colonies with a “considerable number of nests” have been detected in Portugal.

Described as a rare occurrence, authorities are keeping the locations under wraps for now.

“Due to the sensitivity of the moment, we must stress the importance of not disturbing the areas chosen by this species to nest,” says the institute, adding that the first eggs will be hatching soon.

The announcement was made on Saturday (May 22) in celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity.

“If we want to achieve the goal of living in harmony with nature by 2050, we have to understand that we are part of it and that it is in our hands to act and prevent the loss of biodiversity on every level,” says ICNF.

“Despite being essential to human life, biodiversity is still a long way from being well-known and understood. Every year, new species are discovered, even in Portugal, but unfortunately others which we never researched properly and could have been useful to our survival go extinct,” says the institute.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened the idea that we depend on nature and that, by threatening it, we are putting human lives at risk as well. Only by guaranteeing a balance between ecosystems can we ensure the survival of our species and a sustainable development that will allow future generations to solve new environmental problems,” it adds.

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Photo: Agostinho Gomes
Photo: Agostinho Gomes
Photo: Agostinho Gomes