Are Flamingos Endangered? Facts & Figures

There are six species of flamingos living in various regions of the world. The population tendency of some flamingo species is increasing, others are stable, while some are rapidly decreasing.

In this article, I’m going to examine whether any flamingo species are endangered and the reasons why flamingo populations are vulnerable species.

I’m also going to discuss a few of the initiatives underway to save flamingos.

Are Flamingos Endangered in the Wild?

Currently, none of the six flamingo species are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Unfortunately, there are flamingo species that are either near threatened or already vulnerable.

The species that are listed as threatened or vulnerable are on the fast track of becoming endangered, especially if nothing is done to curb any of the factors that have led to the population decline.

How Many Flamingos Are Left in the Wild?

As I mentioned, there are six flamingo species in the world – the Caribbean flamingo, the Andean flamingo, the Chilean flamingo, the Lesser flamingo, the Greater flamingo, and the James’s (Puna) flamingo.

Of all the flamingo species, the Lesser flamingo is the most numerous, with a current population of around 3.2 million.

Despite the abundance of numbers, the decrease of the Lesser flamingo population is happening at such a rate as to warrant a ‘near threatened’ classification.

The second most populous flamingo species is the Greater flamingo with an approximate population of 680,000. The population of this flamingo species shows an increasing tendency.

Third on the list of the largest flamingo species by population is the Caribbean flamingo, with 330,000 birds living in the wild. Their population is increasing.

The Caribbean flamingo is closely followed in numbers by the Chilean flamingo with a population of 300,000 birds, which is unfortunately decreasing.

The Puna or James’s Flamingo population is around 106,000 birds with a population trend that’s stable.

Both the Chilean flamingo and the Puna flamingo population are listed as ‘near threatened’.

Lastly, the Andean flamingo population is the smallest with around 38,000 birds living in the wild. At this number, the Andean population shows a stable tendency.

If you were to add the numbers up, you would find that there are 4,69 million flamingos in the wild.

Reasons Flamingos Became Vulnerable Species

There are several contributing factors as to why flamingos are becoming a vulnerable species. Chief among the reasons is loss of habitat either due to mining and climate change.

Mining activities that lead to loss of habitat are often cited as the chief cause of population decline of the the flamingos living in South America (Chilean flamingo, Puna flamingo, and Andean flamingo)

Another equally important cause is poaching activities, affecting the flamingo populations in areas of the Middle East, Africa and India (Lesser flamingo).

Poaching activities aren’t limited only to the hunting for meat, but extends also to the stealing of eggs, which also directly affects the breeding success of entire flamingo colonies.

Flamingos are at a reproductive disadvantage compared to other birds of the avian world because they lay only a single egg per year. This means that a flamingo pair will raise only a single flamingo chick, if even that.

If something happens to the flamingo egg before hatching (e.g. falls out of the mound, gets stolen, eaten or destroyed by predators), the egg isn’t replaced.

If enough eggs are stolen year by year, the breeding efforts of entire flamingo colonies can become compromised.

Which Flamingo is Most Endangered?

Based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classification, the flamingo species that’s most in danger of becoming endangered is the Andean flamingo, which is currently listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species.

It’s also the flamingo species with the smallest population in the wild and as such it’s regarded as the rarest flamingo species in the world.

Intensive egg harvesting to sell as food along with loss of habitat are the two most cited reasons for the population decline of the Andean flamingo.

Besides the Andean flamingo, there are three other flaming species that are listed as near threatened – the Chilean flamingo, the Puna (James’s) flamingo, and the Lesser flamingo.

Do Flamingos Have Natural Predators?

Yes, flamingos have several natural predators including other birds but also several mammals as well.

Vultures, eagles, the Marabou stork are just some of the birds that will prey upon the eggs and chicks of the Lesser flamingo. The Marabou stork will also prey upon the eggs and chicks of the Greater flamingo.

Adult flamingos are better protected from land predators when water levels are higher. When water levels decrease, land predators can enter breeding grounds and prey even on adult flamingos.

Lions, leopards, cheetahs, and jackals will prey upon the Lesser flamingo. In Africa, hyenas can also prey upon flamingos.

The natural predators of the Andean flamingo include the Andean fox and Geoffroy’s cat.

As you can see, flamingos have plenty of natural predators. However, flamingos that live in more inhospitable and remote habitats have less predators.

For example, Lake Natron in Tanzania’s Gregory Rift is a typical example of such an inhospitable environment that’s chosen as the perfect breeding site by the Lesser Flamingo. The lake is extremely saline, causing severe burns to the eyes and skin of unadapted animals.

Are There Any Initiatives to Save Flamingos?

Yes, there are several flamingo conservation initiatives underway across the world to save flamingo populations.

The Andean Highland Flamingos Conservation Monitoring Program aims to identify and designate priority habitat conservation areas for three species of flamingos: the Andean, the Chilean, and the Puna flamingos.

Also in South America, the Grupo Conservación Flamencos Altoandinos (GCFA) is a regional conservation initiative that leads research, management, conservation, capacity development, and outreach activities at key sites throughout the flamingo distribution.

The World Wildlife Fund has programs to protect the habitats of lesser flamingos in East Africa.


Even though none of the flamingo species in the world are listed as endangered, there are several flamingo species that are either near threatened or already classified as vulnerable.

Given the poor reproduction record of flamingos, widespread loss of habitat due to human activities, and because of poaching activities, conservation efforts along with legislative protection and enforcement are sorely needed to curb the rapid population decline of some flamingo species.

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