Phoeniconaias minor 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Phoenicopteriformes Phoenicopteridae

Scientific Name: Phoeniconaias minor (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1798)
Common Name(s):
English Lesser Flamingo
French Flamant nain, Petit flamant
Spanish Flamenco Enano
Phoenicopterus minor BirdLife International (2000)
Phoenicopterus minor BirdLife International (2004)
Phoenicopterus minor BirdLife International (2006)
Phoenicopterus minor AERC TAC (2003)
Phoenicopterus minor Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994)
Phoenicopterus minor Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993)
Phoenicopterus minor Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)
Phoenicopterus minor minor Collar et al. (1994)
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Anderson, M.D., Bennun, L., Childress, B., Hawkins, F., Simmons, R., Tyler, S. & Zaccara, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Evans, M., Mahood, S., Malpas, L., O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Robertson, P., Taylor, J., Ashpole, J & Westrip, J.
This species is classified as Near Threatened because populations appear to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline; almost qualifies for listing under criteria A2c+3c. Proposed large-scale soda ash extraction at Lake Natron, the most important breeding colony, although currently on hold, would be disastrous for this species and, were this to happen, the species may qualify for uplisting to a higher threat category.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Phoeniconaias minor breeds mainly in the Rift Valley lakes of East Africa in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. Three smaller breeding congregations occur in West Africa, in southern Africa, and in Asia, in India and Pakistan. When not breeding, it occurs in virtually every sub-Saharan country and from the Arabian peninsula to Pakistan. The global population has been estimated as c.2,220,000-3,240,000, including c.650,000 in Asia (Rose and Scott 1997). The largest population, estimated to be 1.5-2.5 million birds, occurs on the alkaline-saline lakes of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa (Delany and Scott 2006), with approximately 105,000 at Lake Natron, Tanzania (Clamsen et al. 2011). Smaller populations occur in the Rann of Kachchh in north-western India, estimated to be approximately 390,000 birds, in southern Africa, estimated to be 55,000-65,000 birds, and in West Africa, estimated to be 15,000-25,000 birds (Delany and Scott 2006). Declines have been suggested for much of Africa (Rose and Scott 1997; Simmons 1996) (including its major breeding site at Lake Natron [Clamsen et al. 2011]); and at at least one site in India (Kulshreshtha et al. 2011), but are difficult to clarify owing to large-scale movements within the continent (Zaccara et al. 2008) and between Africa and India (Parasharya et al. 2015). It is adapted to respond to local environmental changes in sites by moving elsewhere, and thus depends on a network of suitable areas (L. Bennun in litt. 1999, Zaccara et al. 2011).

Countries occurrence:
Angola; Botswana; Burundi; Cameroon; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Djibouti; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; India; Kenya; Lesotho; Madagascar; Malawi; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Pakistan; Senegal; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Afghanistan; Chad; Comoros; Egypt; Ghana; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Mauritius; Morocco; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Réunion; Rwanda; Sao Tomé and Principe; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Spain; Sri Lanka; Swaziland; United Arab Emirates
Present - origin uncertain:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:27700000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population is estimated to number 15,000-25,000 individuals in West Africa, 1,500,000-2,500,000 in East Africa, 55,000-65,000 in South Africa and Madagascar, and 650,000 in south Asia.

Trend Justification:  The overall population trend is decreasing owing to habitat degradation and disturbance, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends (Delany and Scott 2006), thus a moderately rapid decline is suspected overall.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour This species is itinerant and makes extensive movements in response to environmental conditions (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Borello et al. 1998, L. Bennun in litt. 1999, McCulloch et al. 2003, Childress et al. 2007, Vijayan et al. 2011). The Asian and southern African populations are partially migratory, with many making regular movements from their breeding sites inland to coastal wetlands when not breeding (McCulloch et al. 2003, Jadhav and Parasharya 2004). The species breeds in huge colonies of many thousands of pairs often mixed with Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The timing of breeding is irregular and varies geographically depending on the timing of the rains, with individual adults often not breeding annually (Brown et al. 1982), but it has been suggested that breeding failures (possibly over 10 or more years) may have no effect on the overall population dynamics (Parasharya et al. 2015). The species is an obligate filter feeder and feeds during the night and early morning when the surface of the water is calm, primarily by swimming and filtering the algae near the surface with a specialised bill that contains up to 10,000 microscopic lamellae (del Hoyo et al. 1992). When necessary, the species forms large dense feeding flocks that create calm water for feeding near the centre of the flock (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Habitat The species breeds on large undisturbed alkaline and saline lakes, salt pans or coastal lagoons, usually far out from the shore after seasonal rains have provided the flooding necessary to isolate remote breeding sites from terrestrial predators and the soft muddy material for nest building (Brown and Root 1971, del Hoyo et al. 1992, McCulloch and Irvine 2004). Diet It has a highly specialised diet consisting almost entirely of microscopic blue-green algae (Spirulina spp., Oscillatoria spp. and Lyngbya spp.) and benthic diatoms (Navicula spp., Bacillariophyceae) found only in alkaline lakes, salt pans and saline lagoons and estuaries (del Hoyo et al. 1992). To a lesser extent, the species will also take small aquatic invertebrates such as rotifers (Brachiomus spp) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is built from mud substrates (Brown and Root 1971, Brown et al. 1982). Management information The species will breed successfully on artificial breeding islands in ideal conditions (Anderson 2008).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):15.5
Movement patterns:Nomadic
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Only three main breeding sites exist in Africa and one in India, all facing threats and requiring protection (R. E. Simmons in litt. 1998, Parasharya et al. 2015). Proposed soda-ash mining and hydroelectric power schemes affecting the main breeding site, Lake Natron in Tanzania, although currently put on hold, could cause rapid overall population declines owing to disturbance and the introduction of an alien brine shrimp to clean the soda of algae (the species's food) (L. Bennun in litt. 1999). In 2008, these proposals were still on hold but had not been withdrawn (Anderson 2008). Other threats include land-claim, water pollution, and collisions with electric wires (NamPower/ Namibia Nature Foundation Strategic Partnership 2010, Tere and Parasharya 2011). There are fears that the population at Lake Bogoria is suffering from malnutrition (R. E. Simmons in litt. 1998, S. J. Tyler in litt. 1999, D. Harper in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. CMS Appendix II. It breeds at an artificially created site at Kamfers Dam, South Africa (Anderson 2015, M. Anderson in litt. 2008). In September 2006, 35 experts from the species's range states attended a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, to start the process of drafting an International Action Plan for the species under the auspices of CMS and AEWA (Anon. 2008), which was produced in 2008 (Childress et al. 2008). Breeding success was increased at a West African mixed colony with Greater Flamingo P. roseus by the prevention of hunting and deterrence of pedators (Moreno-Opo et al. 2011). In Namibia the NamPower/ Namibia Nature Foundation Strategic Partnership is looking into reducing collisions with power lines in that country (NamPower/ Namibia Nature Foundation Strategic Partnership 2010). In Botswana the breeding area at the Makgadikgadi salt pans was listed as a Flamingo sanctuary in 2009, and a management plan for this site has been developed (Kootsositse 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Regularly monitor the population at Lake Natron and other key sites. Ensure complete and permanent protection of all breeding congregations, particularly those at Lake Natron.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.14. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.15. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes and Flats
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.16. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes/Pools
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.17. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes/Pools
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.4. Marine Intertidal - Mud Flats and Salt Flats
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.4. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.4. Artificial/Aquatic - Salt Exploitation Sites
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.6. Artificial/Aquatic - Wastewater Treatment Areas
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
3. Energy production & mining -> 3.2. Mining & quarrying
♦ timing:Future ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.2. Utility & service lines
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.3. Work & other activities
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.1. Abstraction of surface water (domestic use)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
♦ timing:Future ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.2. Industrial & military effluents -> 9.2.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Anderson, M. D. 2008. A vision in pink: Lesser Flamingo breeding success. Africa - Birds & Birding 13(2): 42-49.

Anderson, M. D. 2008. Lesser Flamingo's most important breeding site remains under threat. Africa - Birds & Birding 13(4): 19.

Anderson, M. D. 2015. Happy Kamfers. African Birdlife 13(2): 28-33.

Anon. 2008. Action Planning Workshop for the Lesser Flamingo in Nairobi, Kenya. AEWA Newsletter: 12.

Borello, W. D.; Mundy, J. M.; Liversedge, T. N. 1998. Movements of Greater and Lesser Flamingo in southern Africa. Torgos 28: 201-218.

Brown, L. H.; Root, A. 1971. The breeding behaviour of the Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor. Ibis 113: 147-172.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K. and Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.

Childress, B.; Hughes, B.; Harper, D.; van den Bossche, W. 2007. East African flyway and key site network of the Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) documented through satellite tracking. Ostrich 78(2): 463-468.

Childress, B.; Nagy, S.; Hughes, B. 2008. International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor). Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Clamsen, T. E M.; Maliti, H.; Fyumagwa, R. 2011. Current population status, trend and distribution of Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor at Lake Natron, Tanzania Clamsen, T. Flamingo 18: 54-57.

Delany, S. and Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Dodman, T. 2002. Waterbird population estimates in Africa.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

Jadhav, A.; Parasharya, B.M. 2004. Counts of flamingos at some sites in Gujarat State, India. Waterbirds 27: 141-146.

Kootsositse, M. V. 2012. Restoring a disappearing site in Botswana. BirdLife Afr. Newsl. 13.5: 30.

Kulshreshtha, S.; Kulshreshtha, M.; Sharma B. K. 2011. Ecology and present status of flamingos at Sambhar Salt Lake, Rajasthan, India: a critical comparison with past records. Flamingo 18: 24-27.

McCulloch, G.; Aebischer, A.; Irvine, K. 2003. Satellite tracking of flamingos in southern Africa: the importance of small wetlands for management and conservation. Oryx 37: 480-483.

McCulloch, G.; Irvine, K. 2004. Breeding of Greater and Lesser Flamingos at Sua Pan, Botswana, 1998-2001. Ostrich 75: 236-242.

Moreno-Opo, R.; Ould Sidaty, Z. E.; Baldó, J. M.; García, F.; Ould Sehla Daf, D.; González, L. M. 2013. A breeding colony of the Near Threatened Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor in western Africa: a conservation story of threats and land management. Bird Conservation International 23: 426-436.

NamPower/ Namibia Nature Foundation Strategic Partnership. 2010. Focus on flamingos and power lines. Newsletter No. 5.

Parasharya, B. M.; Rank, D. N.; Harper, D. M.; Crosa, G.; Zaccara, S.; Patel, N.; Joshi, C.G. 2015. Long-distance dispersal capability of lesser flamingo Phoeniconaias minor between India and Africa: genetic inferences for future conservation plans. Ostrich 86: 221-229.

Rose, P. M.; Scott, D. A. 1997. Waterfowl population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Simmons, R. E. 1996. Population declines, viable breeding areas, and management options for flamingos in southern Africa. Conservation Biology 10: 504-514.

Tere, A.; Parasharya, B. M. 2011. Flamingo mortality due to collision with high tension electric wires in Gujarat, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 3: 2192-2201.

Trolliet, B.; Fouquet, M. 2001. La population ouest-africaine du Flamant nain Phoeniconaias minor: effectifs, répartition et isolement. Malimbus 23: 87-92.

Trolliet, B.; Fouquet, M.; Keia, N. 2007. Statut du Flamant nain (Phoeniconaias minor) en Afrique de l'Ouest. Ostrich 78(2): 512.

Vijayan, L.; Somasundaram, S.; Zaibin, A. P.; Nandan, B. 2011. Population and habitat of the Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor in Thane Creek, Mumbai, India. Flamingo 18: 58-61.

Wetlands International. 2002. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Zaccara, S.; Crosa, G.; Childress, B.; McCulloch, G.; Harper, D. M. 2008. Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor populations in eastern and southern Africa are not genetically isolated. Ostrich 79(2): 165-170.

Zaccara, S.; Crosa, G.; Vanetti, I.; Binelli, G.; Brooks, C.; Mcculloch, G.; Harper, D. M. 2011. Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) as a nomadic species in African shallow alkaline lakes and pans: genetic structure and future perspectives. Ostrich 82: 95-100.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Phoeniconaias minor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697369A93611130. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided