Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has undergone a rapid population decline over the past three generations, owing to exploitation and declines in habitat quality. Exploitation has now decreased and recent survey data suggest that the population is now stable; however, it remains much depleted compared with past numbers.
Population assessments are difficult and vary greatly (Hurlbert 1978, 1981, Scott and Carbonell 1986, Flamingo Action Plan Questionnaire 1998). In the 2010 International Simultaneous Census 38,675 individuals were counted (Marconi et al. 2011). An aerial survey of Laguna Mar Chiquita in summer 2018 recorded 11,607 individuals (Cabaña et al. 2018). However, due to high uncertainty, the overall population size has not been quantified.
From the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, the population declined from around 50,000-100,000 individuals to 34,000 (Rocha and Quiroga 1997), indicating a rapid decline. Breeding success appears to be consistently low (Flamingo Action Plan Questionnaire 1998), and thus declines may continue for many years, because flamingos have a high longevity (20-50 years) (del Hoyo 1992); however, data from the International Simultaneous Census and Simultaneous Census of Network Sites, including over 38,000 individuals recorded in 2010 (Marconi et al. 2011), suggest that the population may have been stable at least during 1997-2010.
Phoenicoparrus andinus occurs on the high Andean plateaus of Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. It breeds at several localities, notably Laguna Colorada and other salt-lakes in south-western Bolivia, Laguna de Salinas (Peru) and Salar de Atacama (Chile) (Rocha 1994, Flamingo Action Plan Questionnaire 1998, O. Rocha in litt. 2000). Further breeding sites in Argentina are Laguna Mar Chiquita, Laguna Blanca, Salar de Llullaillaco, Salar de Incahuasi, Salar de Antofalla and Laguna Carachipampa (Torres et al. 2019).
It is largely restricted to high mountain alkaline and salt-lakes, at 2,300-4,500 m. It may be nomadic in search of temporally patchy food supplies (mainly diatoms [del Hoyo 1992, Polla et al. 2018]). It breeds colonially, laying only one egg (unless first egg predated), mainly in December-February (del Hoyo 1992, O. Rocha in litt. 2000).
The collecting of eggs to sell as food was intensive in the mid-20th century and the early 1980s, with thousands taken annually (Johnson 1965, Hurlbert 1981). Unfavourable water-levels (owing to weather and manipulation), erosion of nest-sites and human disturbance may also affect productivity (Flamingo Action Plan Questionnaire 1998). The threat posed by mining developments in Andean wetlands is increasing in recent years: In addition to mining for gold, salt and silica sands, the so-called 'lithium triangle' with large reserves of lithium brine overlaps with important breeding sites of the species (Gutierrez et al. 2019, Stacey 2019, F. Arengo in litt. 2020). Mining may lead to an abstraction of surface water, pollution of wetlands and increased industrial developments within critical breeding habitat. Outside protected areas in Bolivia, there is a low level of hunting for food, oils and feathers, especially targeting immatures and juveniles (Rocha and Quiroga 1997, O. Rocha in litt. 2000).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. CMS Appendix I. Breeding occurs in Salinas and Aguada Blanca Nature Reserve, Peru (Ugarte-Nunez and Mosaurieta-Echegaray 2000), Salar de Atacama National Flamingo Reserve (del Hoyo 1992), Chile, Las Chinchillas Provincial Natural Reserve, Argentina, and Eduardo Avaroa National Faunal Reserve, Bolivia, with a protected non-breeding site at Laguna de los Pozuelos Natural Monument, Argentina (Flamingo Action Plan Questionnaire 1998). Conservation actions, locally including habitat management, prevention of egg-collecting and raising public awareness, are being undertaken (Flamingo Action Plan Questionnaire 1998, O. Rocha in litt. 2000). The Grupo de Conservación Flamencos Altoandinos (GCFA) coordinates research, monitoring and conservation actions on this species throughout Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru, including a comprehensive range-wide census every five years (F. Arengo in litt. 2020).
102-110 cm. Large flamingo. Pale pink body with brighter upperparts, deep vinaceous-pink lower neck, breast and wing-coverts. Large, black, triangular patch of primaries visible when perched. Pale yellow and black bill. Yellow legs. Immature greyish with bold streaks in the upperparts. Similar spp. Other flamingos differ in size, leg colour and tertial colour. Voice Nasal, raspy calls in colonies.
Text account compilers
Arengo, F., Benstead, P., Chebez, J.C., King, C., Pilgrim, J., Rocha, O., Rose, P., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Phoenicoparrus andinus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/09/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/09/2021.