Rescuers are moving hundreds of dehydrated young flaming chickens from their breeding to a dryly affected South African dam to a haven in Cape Town to save them from death by starvation and lack of water.
Their place of birth, Kamfer Reservoir in the northern Cape, is one of three breeding grounds for the famous pink birds in South Africa, the other two are in Namibia and Botswana, according to researcher Katty Ludynia.
Rescued chickens take three to four months to open and it is not yet clear whether they will eventually be released back to Cape Town or transported hundreds of miles back to their home in Kimberley.
"There are still thousands of birds in the dam still in areas that still have water," says Katta Ludynia, SANCCOB South African Coastal Survival Research Manager. "Now it depends on the water level whether these birds will stretch."
Ludynia said the shelter took care of about 550 chickens, most of them dehydrated when they arrived on Monday after they were left by their parents who were looking for food.
Goats are moved to the sanctuary by airplane and road.
SANCCOB is one of several centers in South Africa to take care of about 2,000 chickens that have been rescued from the dam.
Although there is the largest population of smaller flamingos in South Africa, the Kamfer Dam, north of Kimberley, is often dry and depends mainly on rainwater. It also receives water from sewerage that releases water into wetlands.
"The dam in Kimberley is so important because it is manageable so we can provide water in there, which could be the only place where flames can be reared in southern Africa if drought continues in other areas," Ludynia said.