A record 876 flamingo chicks hatched at Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba Wetland Reserve this season.
The successful breeding season may be the result of reduced human activity as people stay at home owing to Covid-19 movement restrictions.
Scientists from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi observed the first egg on March 15, two weeks earlier than in 2019.
The number of chicks is the highest on record since observations began at the reserve in 2011 and is an increase of more than 20 per cent from the the 714 chicks recorded at the colony last season.
“Continued breeding of flamingos in Al Wathba is a significant milestone in our efforts to protect our Emirate’s biodiversity,” said Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, the agency’s secretary general. “The news of the record numbers during the Covid-19 movement restrictions we have achieved is a positive indicator especially when several activities have come to a standstill.”
Wildlife sightings have increased globally since the pandemic began and the UAE is no exception.
The lack of human disturbance and a temporary drop in pollution is thought to have contributed to an increase in breeding activity.
Sea turtle nesting activity increased along the coast, three owl nests were discovered at Jebel Hafeet and breeding of black-winged stilts and Kentish birds increased at Al Wathbah.
Meanwhile, many animals, from bottlenose dolphins to Arabian Tahrs, ventured to areas long avoided. This included the flamingo.
“Flamingos are the flagship species of Al Wathba Reserve and their breeding is followed closely by people in the region,” said Dr Al Dhaheri. “At the same time, breeding during the past decade has seen growing interest both from the public and wildlife scientists monitoring their breeding patterns.”
The beauty spot was declared a reserve in 1998 by Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father.
It was established as a protected area following the first successful breeding of flamingos.