Flight for preservation: Haiti National Trust takes to the skies to survey Haiti’s flamingo populations


In response to concerning trends in the destruction of habitat for Caribbean Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) on Hispaniola, conservation efforts are being intensified. Despite being labeled as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List, recent evaluations point to significant declines in breeding colonies and habitat quality.

Since the arrival of Spanish and French settlers in 1781, Caribbean Flamingos have been a familiar sight on the island, once deemed locally abundant. However, the landscape has undergone notable changes, primarily due to habitat degradation driven by human activities. The absence of active breeding sites, noted in the 2003 review, stands in stark contrast to the flourishing nesting colonies reported in the 1970s.

In Haiti, these graceful birds have previously been spotted in various coastal mangrove lagoons, including those near Liberté Bay, Grande Saline, Gonaïves, Étang Saumâtre, and offshore islands like Île de la Gonâve, Île-à-Vache, and Île de la Tortue. However, these critical habitats are under threats like mangrove deforestation, urban expansion, rising sea levels, and illegal poaching.

Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) – Credit: Eladio Fernandez

In a proactive move to address these concerns, Haiti National Trust is conducting an aerial survey to assess the flamingo population across Haiti. This survey is being conducted simultaneously in the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos between February 19th and 27th, 2024, aiming to gather comprehensive data to advocate for a change in the flamingos’ protection status by comparing current findings with historical data.

Recognizing the importance of the IUCN Red List as a pivotal tool in biodiversity conservation, monitoring, and reporting findings is essential. By doing so, we can significantly contribute to conservation efforts aimed at preserving species like the Caribbean Flamingo and their habitats.

Funding for this aerial survey has been generously provided by a private donor. However, broader support from the conservation community is essential to sustain efforts aimed at protecting Haiti’s flamingos. Donations from concerned individuals can make a tangible difference in ensuring the survival of these majestic birds and the ecosystems they inhabit.

Flock of Caribbean Flamingos spotted during the survey in Gonaïves – Credit: Pierre Michel Jean

In conclusion, concerted actions are imperative to safeguard Caribbean Flamingos. Through collaborative endeavors and widespread support, we can strive towards securing a sustainable future for these iconic birds and the biodiversity they represent.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Philippe Bayard, Sandro Masucci, Mathias Perry, Jean Mary Exantus, Pierre Michel Jean and Bernard Delatour. Together, through collaborative efforts and widespread support, we can strive towards securing a sustainable future for these iconic birds and the biodiversity they represent.

Stay tuned for the results of this survey and consider a donation to support our ongoing conservation efforts!