Abu Dhabi Birdathon sees Winning Flamingo Travel 1300 Km from Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
- Joint initiative by Etihad Airways, Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi tracked 10 Greater Flamingos assigned to leading Abu Dhabi entities
- Abu Dhabi Police’s flamingo emerges as winner
Abu Dhabi-UAE: 21 April 2019 – The Abu Dhabi Birdathon, an initiative organised by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and Etihad Airways to celebrate Sheikh Zayed’s legacy of environmental sustainability, has come to a successful close. The initiative, which tracked the migration of 10 Greater Flamingos assigned to leading Abu Dhabi entities, aimed to raise awareness around wetland conservation and the importance of protected areas.
The flamingos were tagged and released from Al Wathba Wetland Reserve and the Bul Syayeef Marine Protected Area in Abu Dhabi in November last year. Migrating a phenomenal 1,300 kilometres to Iran, the flamingo assigned to Abu Dhabi Police has emerged as the winner of the race, which ended on 31 March, 2019. In second place was Etihad Airways’ flamingo named Amelia, which travelled over 200 kilometres to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, followed by Abu Dhabi Airports Company’s flamingo, which remained within Abu Dhabi Emirate and covered a distance of 142 kilometres. Other participating entities also included the Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi, Masdar, ADNOC, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Etihad Engineering and Etihad Cargo.
EAD has been tagging and tracking the movement of the Greater Flamingo through its globally-recognised satellite tracking programme since 2005. Each winter, thousands of flamingo return to the UAE, with nearly 4,000 spending the season at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, which has become the only site in the Arabian Gulf where these birds breed regularly.
Speaking on the initiative, Her Excellency Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Acting Secretary General of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, said: “For over a decade, the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve has nurtured a growing population of the beautiful Greater Flamingo that migrate great distances to return to Abu Dhabi every year. Along with our employees and the wider public, we were excited to follow their individual journeys to learn more about the species’ activities in the region and to promote this incredible phenomenon, which demonstrates the critical role our wetlands play in sustaining a diverse ecosystem of birds, animals, plants and marine life.
“We were delighted for the opportunity to share our commitment to sustainability and environmental protection with all our partners, which has only strengthened our collective resolve to work together to promote the conservation of our local biodiversity and natural ecosystems. Through initiatives such as the Abu Dhabi Birdathon, we hope to inspire future generations to continue to take an active part in championing a sustainable future for Abu Dhabi,” Her Excellency added.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer Etihad Aviation Group, said: “As the national airline of the UAE, it was a great honour to collaborate with EAD to launch the Abu Dhabi Birdathon last year. We would like to thank our strategic partners for their participation in the Birdathon. As part of our Year of Zayed initiatives, it only seemed fitting that we paid tribute to the founding father’s vision for a more sustainable community by caring for and protecting these beautiful birds.”
Dr. Hamoud Saeed Al-Afari, Director of the Community Police Department of the Abu Dhabi praised the efforts and commitment of the UAE to preserve wildlife so as to promote the values of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He stressed the keenness of the Abu Dhabi Police to extend bridges of cooperation and strengthen coordination with the Environment Agency -Abu Dhabi and the various civil society institutions that work collectively to achieve the vision of our wise leadership towards maintaining the sustainable development for UAE society.
The first Ramsar site in Abu Dhabi, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is home to over 260 birds besides the flamingo, 320 invertebrates, 35 plants, 16 reptiles and 10 mammal species. In 2018, a phenomenal 601 flamingo chicks hatched at the reserve – the highest number ever recorded so far. The site, which also features on the Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), welcomes thousands of visitors every year to witness the unique concentration of the Greater Flamingo. Al Wathba Wetland Reserve will close to visitors starting Mat to reopen again for the winter season in October later this year.