July 21, 2016
A World Like No Other for Flamingos
- as seen by -Timothy Mohl
Bolivia is a world like no other.
There are alien landscapes that change as quickly as the altitude ranging from the lowland rainforest of Bolivia’s Madidi where new species are being discovered regularly to the 250-mile-wide salt desert where islands are covered in 30-foot-tall cacti.
My field trip in early April started in the altiplano, the high plains, where airplanes don’t need to descend, they just land. The adventure included a few cab rides, a puddle jumper, and a six-hour off road drive that brought us close to 15,000 feet above sea level to Laguna Colorada at the top of Bolivia. This location is one of the world’s largest breeding sites for three of the six flamingo species – Chilean, Andean, and Puna. They congregate in the tens of thousands each year to feast on the phytoplankton and look like a sea of crimson pink in the mid-day sun. Researchers and many local people came together to identify, band, catalog, and release over 1000 yearlings (year-old flamingos) in just a few hours.
It was amazing to be part of the effort to help save these species that can now be tracked through multiple generations.
EDITOR’S NOTE: National Zoo Keeper Week is July 16-24. Wild View is featuring posts by our Wildlife Conservation Society zoo keepers. For more on activities at our wildlife parks during keeper week, visit the Bronx Zoo’s #Keeperweek Challenge, Prospect Park Zoo’s National Zoo Keeper Week, and check for keeper chats at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo.