Natron's flamingos star in Disney film!
Walt Disney have chosen Lake Natron’s Lesser Flamingos Phoeniconaias minor to star in their first wildlife blockbuster in nearly half a century. ‘The Crimson Wing - Mystery of the Flamingos’ takes viewers to the isolated shores of Lake Natron, in northern Tanzania, for a birds-eye view of the mysterious and perilous lives of Lesser Flamingos. The film was premiered in Paris this week, and reminds the world of the threats facing one the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles.
Walt Disney produced wildlife documentaries called the ‘True-Life Adventure’ series between 1948 and 1960. These Oscar-winning films showed people the beauty of the natural world. The Crimson Wing marks the return of Disney to the genre. “We hope these films will contribute to a greater understanding and appreciation of the beauty and fragility of our natural world”, said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.
Disney chose Lake Natron’s Lesser Flamingo population to relaunch their new company - Disneynature. For filmmaker Matthew Aeberhard, the extraordinary gathering of one and a half million flamingos on the shores of Lake Natron surpasses all the wonders of the natural world. “What’s fascinating to me is that so few people have been here”, said Aeberhard. “More people have walked on the moon than have been out on the mudflats where the flamingos have their breeding colonies”.
“There are certainly a lot of Lesser Flamingos … it doesn’t mean their future is secure” —Matthew Aeberhard, Filmmaker of ‘The Crimson Wing’
Lake Natron is one of the largest soda lakes in the Rift Valley, its eight saline lagoons covering an area of approximately 80 km2. It’s extremely alkaline; providing ideal environment for the salt-loving micro organisms which support East Africa’s largest population of Lesser Flamingos.
The Crimson Wing tells the story of the birth, life and death of a million Lesser Flamingos. Life at Natron is tough for the flamingos, with many predators threatening their daily survival. According to Aeberhard: “they have a number of predators such as Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus, hyenas and jackals... The contrast here between life and death is very stark”.
Sadly, this wonder of the natural world is under threat. There is a proposal to construct a plant capable of producing 500,000 tonnes of soda ash at Lake Natron. BirdLife International believes the development and associated infrastructure will displace and scatter the Lesser Flamingos.
“The protection of Lake Natron is vital for the long term survival of the lesser flamingo” —Disneynature, Makers of The Crimson Wing
Speaking about the future of Lesser Flamingo at Lake Natron, Aeberhard warned: “There are certainly a lot of Lesser Flamingos right now, but it doesn’t mean their future is secure”.
“They [Natron’s flamingos] could be very heavily impacted by minor developments”, said Aeberhard. He also stressed the fragile nature of Lake Natron’s beautiful pink flocks. “A company starts mining here and the water level may change, the salt balance may change”.
The Crimson Wing is on release in France and Switzerland and will be on general release in more than 50 countries around the world during 2009. BirdLife International is leading the "Think Pink" campaign to conserve Lake Natron. Similarly, the Lake Natron Consultative Group - a consortium of 46 concerned institutions in Africa, Europe, Americas and Asia - has called for a halt to the soda ash plant plans. Please click to find out how you can help...
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Credits: This news was bought to you by BirdLife's Think Pink Campaign.