While warming red light at a rescue center in Cape Town, baby flamingos are fed, weighed and cared for. The chickens are among 2,000 who were rescued after being abandoned by their parents as drowning water dried up in South Africa.
A special air transport to thousands of baby flamingos is underway in South Africa, as drought has put their breeding ground in jeopardy with a reservoir hosting one of South Africa's largest flamingos populations that dry up.
Nicky Stander, Rehabilitation Manager of the South African Coastal Conservation Fund in Cape Town (SANCCOB), said her team went into action as the news of the abandoned birds broke last month.
"We are rehabilitating, it's our business, and for the purpose of releasing back into the wild. We have great facilities here built last year. And we thought we were the best people to contribute to this project," said Stander.
"As time goes by and they grow, we have to adapt the way we house them and make sure they have a long running space so they can exercise their legs."
South Africa has been subjected to a prolonged period of severe drought, where the government announced "day zero" – a moment when the dam levels would be so low that they would extinguish the taps in Cape Town and send people to municipal water collection sites.
This apocalyptic perception led to water storage and panic, but also led to a dramatic reduction in water consumption per day. Resident, and day zero was eventually averted. But the effects of the drought are still felt.
The move of 2,000 chickens from Kamfers Dam in the Northern Cape province to several places, including Cape Town – a 950-km (590-mile) journey – has attracted public attention in South Africa. But some conservation experts have questioned the decision to intervene.
"These inviting little birds were apparently prolonged and died by their parents when the lady's water was dried up," said Mark Anderson, managing director of BirdLife South Africa.
"[But] was the decision to step in and remove the abandoned chickens and eggs right? Who made this decision under which authority and expertise? "
At SANCCOB, volunteer Leslie Ernst says they are determined to do their best for the rescued chickens.
"They are super delicate feelings. Every time I go to bed, I still feel them in my hands," she said. "I think we all feel very fashionable to all of them."