Banding 2019: actions for the preservation of Caribbean Flamenco in the Yucatan Peninsula

On Sunday August 18th, the annual ringing of juvenile Caribbean flamingos took place in the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Yucatan.

The National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP), the Ría Lagartos, Los Petenes, Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserves, the Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area along with the Pedro and Elena Hernández Foundation, have worked together for several years, in the study and protection of the Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber).

The banding consists of placing a ring around some of the birds’ legs, which allows them to be identified remotely by binoculars or telescopes. In addition, a document is prepared with a technical file for each ringed bird, measurements and weight are taken, and then the bird is released.


Blood and food sample were taken from selected specimens. This activity is essential to study the life cycle of flamingos, since it provides elements to analyze movement patterns and allows to gather information about their distribution throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. It is also vital to define the priority areas for their survival, which constantly updates the permanent program of conservation and restoration of habitats.

Since 2002, the ringing of flamingos marks the culmination of another year of efforts that encompass different actions inside and outside the Ría Lagartos Reserve. This important task includes the support of several groups of specialists and community members who work with a common goal: to protect and study this beautiful bird and its ecosystem.

During this year different actions were carried out as part of the Permanent Program of Conservation of the Caribbean Flamingo:

• The banding of juvenile flamingos, in which 600 birds were annulled that, together with the more than 4,000 previously ringed, has contributed to the geographical distribution of these specimens – there is a record of the presence of ringed birds in Cuba, Florida and even in parts of Texas.

• Population monitoring in the reserves of Ría Lagartos, Los Petenes, Celestún and Yum Balam. And along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula

• The placement of 10 additional satellite locators to the 9 previously installed that monitor the movements and patterns of adult individuals 24/7.

• Care actions and restriction of access to the reproductive colony in order to prevent disturbances among the flaming population, reducing the impact of feral fauna, as well as the effects of the well-intentioned curiosity of some visitors that may stress the reproductive colony.

• Sterilization of pets in the populations within the reserve, thus achieving sterilization of 177 pets (dogs / cats) in 3 campaigns, avoiding potential growth of feral fauna.

• Actions to depopulate and clean up mangroves.

• Awareness programs in schools that promote an environmental culture.

• Programs for generating pride and belonging to the communities with the Flamenco Festival.

• Environmental talks on the topic of water care, “The Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve: Regulations to preserve water in the region”, knowledge of the Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), solid waste management, wetland care.

• Within the framework of the “World Environment Day” and other environment related dates, environmental fairs were held with the collaboration of different organizations and educational institutions.

The objective of these efforts is and will be to guarantee the permanence of this species that is distributed in the Yucatan Peninsula, which could not be achieved without the support of allies such as the ISYSA salt mine and the Africam Safari veterinary team, who have supported the banding activities year after year.

As a result of all these actions, local economies have managed to promote sustainable activities and thus take advantage of their natural resources in a responsible manner, stimulating tourism and improving value chains with the new creation of hotels, restaurants and tourist services that grow thanks to the interest of the public to experience the benefits and beauty of the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve.

After almost two decades of continuous efforts by the state and municipal authorities, CONANP and the Pedro and Elena Hernández Foundation, awareness in the care of flamenco and its ecosystem is becoming stronger every day, strengthening the protection of the natural sanctuaries that house the Caribbean flamenco and more than 715 species of flora and 661 species of fauna that share its territory.

The Yucatan Times Newsroom with information provided by the Pedro and Elena Hernández Foundation, A. C.