Tall and elegant but yet gawky are the Pink flamingos, and finding them living at altitudes above 12,000 feet is something that you would least expect.
In my travels, I’ve had the great fortune to enjoy them at Lake Manyara in Tanzania, and on the Galapagos Islands but the altiplano region of Bolivia is home to three flamingo species, the James, the Andean and finally the Chilean flamingo.
Our last leg on our journey to Bolivia was to head to “Laguna Colorada” or the Colored Lake where flamingos are known to live on the uniquely colored lake. Little did I know that there were two other lakes along the way that allowed us up close and personal views of the flamingos. If I had known this, we would have most certainly spent at least one night at the Hotel Los Flamencos located on Laguna Hedionda. A newly remodeled hotel that offers modern conveniences, this remote location is generally a mid-day stop for visitors traveling from here to there.
In recent years there has been a rapid decline in the number of Flamingos in the region. Part of what has attributed to their decline is not only climate change but also the dramatic increase in Borax mining at nearby lakes. This mining is done by bulldozing lake beds which destroys the natural habitat and food supply for wildlife and exposes Flamingos to Borax which is toxic to them.
In spite of the attempts to thwart the threat to the flamingo population, A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2008 between Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, the intention of conservation and protectionism has been slow to start. Signed in 2008, the first official meeting was a long five years later in 2013. Meanwhile, increases in Borax mining and egg poaching from locals are to blame for the decline in the flamingo population.
It is slow progress, but a plan is in place that was agreed upon in the 2016 High Andean Flamingos MOU meeting which was held in Cuzco, Peru. In the meantime, we can appreciate these beautiful birds in a harsh, unforgiving and unexpected environment. High on the Altiplano regions of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.