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Scientists to discover why flamingos are in the pink of health -- in the poo!
Date:3/11/2008

ded by the Darwin Initiative and now plans to write a full grant proposal to link with Indian universities and conservation groups to better understand how flamingos can thrive in waste water and how the peoples love of these birds can be turned into a love of everything natural.

Dr Harper added: Bombay is on very low-lying land that once was just a few islands in the estuary, but now about 20 million people are crammed into this city. They need the estuary and all its ecology to help clean up their wastes and even protect them against flooding. We are planning to use the flamingo to help people understand the benefits of mud and mangroves less pretty but far more useful to them!

In Africa, Dr Harper and members of his team have satellite-tagged birds to find exactly where they go, studied their feeding and their behaviour and why sometimes several thousand die suddenly. His wife, Maureen, has used them as a teaching theme in schools near their lakes and written stories about them for the pupils. They have been funded by the UK Darwin Initiative, part of the British Government, which sends specialists from this country to help other countries, richer in biodiversity, protect their priceless natural heritage.

Dr Harper said: The deaths of lesser flamingos in East Africa over the past 15 years have sometimes been blamed on poisoning from mankinds industries or the consequence of too much fertiliser or human wastes in the lakes.

But people who blame human wastes should go to India to see how well lesser flamingos thrive and how pink they grow, when they are surrounded by heavy industry and by water so polluted I could smell it a mile away!


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Contact: Dr. David Harper
dmh@le.ac.uk
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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