Wednesday, April 22, 2009

South Africa Water Toxicity

Over Spring Break this year I visited South Africa. One of the sites I saw was the Flamingo Island at Kampfer's Dam in Kimberley. This is a completely man made S-shaped island that was constructed specifically to house a Lesser Flamingo colony. It contains the second largest colony in the world. The project was a great success and proved to serve its purpose better than anyone thought it would. Now it is host to thousands of flamingos. The health of the lake the island sits on is in peril. Sewage is being pumped into the lake on the other side of the dam. These toxic chemicals could infect the flamingo food source and drive the flamingos away. We talked with a Clemson graduate student who is studing wildlife toxicology. Her project is to draw blood samples from the birds to be analyzed for any pathogens. The colony is also threatened by development. Plans have been proposed to put a large housing development right next to the dam. A disturbance of the birds could drive them to abandon the island and any nests with chicks. They would never return. In this case marine resources could play a huge role in the survival of this island.

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