Unlike previous years when around 77,000 pink flamingos were recorded in the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, in recent months only groups of 10 to 30 individuals have been seen, explained biologist José Cruz Hoil Rajón, responsible for environmental issues in the Municipality of Río Lagartos.
We’ve previously highlighted possible reasons why the flamingos have not been nesting in this reserve, such as disturbance caused by tourists, overflights of airplanes and drones, glyphosate pollution, natural phenomena, among other factors.
“Ría Lagartos is vital for the reproduction of the Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber), whose distribution in Mexico is restricted to the northern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula. The nesting colonies are located in a small area to the east of the Reserve. Despite having considerable populations in other parts of the Caribbean region, such as the Florida Peninsula and the Bahamas, the Yucatecan reserve is under special protection,” the specialist stated.
Hoil Rajón also commented that the wetland supports the largest number of nesting pairs, that is, 80 percent of a population of a waterbird species or subspecies, in this case, the Caribbean pink flamingo.
He added that the marsh in the Reserve represents a specific example of an ecosystem with characteristics unique to the region. The site is characterized by having high biological productivity, ranging from marine salinity to hypersalinity, creating a unique karstic environment in the world.
“Within the Reserve, there are 333 bird species (177 residents, 142 migratory, and 14 resident-migratory). The pink flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber) has a predominant nesting site in the El Cuyo basin, which led to the legal protection of Ría Lagartos in 1979. However, various factors have caused this species in recent years to nest in other areas, such as San Crisanto,” the biologist reported.
Likewise, he assured that to date, only groups of 10 to 20 flamingos have been observed, whereas in previous years, 77,000 specimens were recorded in reserves other than the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve.
Additionally, the specialist mentioned that when flamingo eggs hatch, they face various dangers such as floods, crocodiles, birds, raccoon foxes, and natural phenomena like cyclones, which determine the number of survivors: “To date, there is no accurate record of how many birds will return to their places of origin, as many take flight before the nesting period, which is expected to begin in this part of the state on September 2nd.”
Finally, Hoil Rajón invited the general community to an event that will take place on May 24th, where a workshop on coastal birds inhabiting the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve will be conducted as part of the Toh Bird Festival. Additionally, on May 26th, a panel discussion on the conservation of the Caribbean flamingo will be held in Celestún.