Pink, poised and prominent

While Cape Town seems to finally push aside the rainy weather, residents are embracing the sun’s blessings that radiate across the sky. The transition from scarves to skirts and pants to shorts marks the coming of summer. And as the city prepares for the hordes of tourists this season brings, we notice a few peculiar pink visitors roaming around the city’s water bodies.

The sight of flamingos in the Black River, have been a treat for drivers along the N2 highway. This once heavily polluted waterway seems like an unlikely home for these elegant birds. Professor Les Underhill, Director of the Animal Demographic Unit at UCT said that the presence of flamingos in the Black River has become an increasingly common sight in the past few years.

Dr Doug Harebottle of the UCT Avian Demography Unit expressed his excitement at the flocks of “wildlife ballerinas”. “There has been an odd few sightings in the past but there has never been the numbers that there are at the moment,” he said.

Eye Witness News reported that the arrival of the flamingos is a result of the efforts to clear the water of water weeds. This provides the invertebrates the birds feed on better conditions to multiply. “At the moment the river is offering really good feeding opportunities so they’re making use of that,” told Harebottle.

“I think a lot more water birds can be seen in the river than there used to be and it is probably a reflection on the quality of water coming from the city’s waterworks. It is also probably a pat on the back of the city,” noted Underhill. Harebottle cited that the City of Cape Town has done an outstanding job in removing the alien vegetation in the Black River, which was caused by the effluent from the sewage works in the area.

Alex Aitkenhead Birds of a feather: Flamingos engaging in one of many frequent squabbles

Alex Aitkenhead
Birds of a feather: Flamingos engaging in one of many frequent squabbles

The City has deployed a specialised unit that has been tasked with the removal of the alien vegetation. The Storm Water Department’s Invasive Alien Species Coordinator, Louise Stafford said: “We now have river wardens to make sure that after initial removal of the dense infestation we continuously maintain it.”According to a Cape Times report, Rob Little, manager at UCT’s Fitzpatrick Institute reputed that the presence of the flamingos has caused an increase in the number of invertebrates in the city’s waterways and not necessarily the improved quality of the water.A large flock of flamingos have also been sighted at the Strandfontein sewerage works. Underhill added that the flamingos breeding areas include northern Namibia and the Estosha Pan and are seen in Western Cape when they are not breeding.

The presence of these majestic birds has definitely added a sprinkle of happiness to the city’s natural environment and its residents. Flamingos not only reflect the good quality of Cape Town’s rivers but they also represent the beginning of a brilliant summer.

Aubrena Armstrong


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