Flamingo and Grebe Species

Flamingoes and Grebes

At the top of the page is an image of every species of flamingo, below you will find some information on each species. Below this, you will find the same for the grebes.

As always, should you work in tourism or conservation of any of these species, do get in touch, we are keen to help people find you. Click on list your wild place on the homepage main menu.

American Flamingo

Found in the West Indies, northern South America (including the Galápagos Islands) and the Yucatan Peninsula. It was considered cospecifc with the greater flamingo, but they are now recognized as separate species (it is also closely related to the Chilean flamingo). 

Formerly it was a culture icon in Southern Florida, but was largely extirpated by 1900. Having said this, there are vagrant flamingos in Florida, and these now often stay in the country worldwide.

There are 80,000-90,000 left in the wild, and there are 4 breeding colonies: in South America (in the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador, coastal Colombia and Venezuela, and northern Brazil), in the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), The Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands), and tropical and subtropical areas of continental North America (along the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, and formerly southern Florida in the United States).

Andean Flamingo

Found in the Andes mountains of South America, it is in the same genus as the James Flamingo. Indeed, the Chilean Andea and James flamingo often share nesting sites and are relatively closely related.

It is considered vulnerable to extinction with roughly 34,000 remaining in the wild, but declining over time.

As with other flamingos they are filter feeders, though what they filter can vary from algae to small fish – which they look for in shallow salty water.

They migrate between salt lakes in the summer and lower wetlands in winter – with the capacity of covering 700 miles a day.

The threat that this species faces, is generally due to human activity of mining and other changes to their habitat.

Chilean Flamingo

Closely related to the American and greater flamingo, it is listed as near threatened in the wild with a wild population of about 200,000. Population declines are due to habitat loss and degradation, harvesting and human disturbance.

While they are only currently listed as near threatened, there is a great deal of concern about falling populations, and as such they are relatively common in zoos and there is an active breeding program..


Greater Flamingo

The greaterflamingo has the greatest of ranges of any species (as you can see from the map. While it is found down the East coast of Africa, it is also found on the northwest coast and the northern coast. It is also present in the middle east, and throughout much of Sothern Europe. Its range also extends into India. It is listed as least concern with a population between 550,000 and 680,000 with between 45,000 and 125,000 living in Europe – the Camargue is the most famous in Southern France

They are listed as least concern


James Flamingo

The James flamingo is also found on the high Andean plateau, and is closely related to the Andean Flamingo. It was thought extinct until a population was rediscovered in 1956, and the current population is thought to be around 106,000.

It is currently listed as near threatened, and on CITES appendix 2.

Lesser Flamingo

Found in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. While the smallest species, it still stands 80-90cm tall. The easiest way to tell this and the greater flamingo (with overlapping range) apart is that the greater flamingo has more black on its bill.

Estimates on the number of this species range from “above” 2 million to as much as 5 million.

They generally breed in highly caustic lakes of the great rift valley in Africa, though there are places in India and a few other places as well.

They are classed as near threatened. While their choice of nesting site protects from many predators, it is still true that many flamingos are killed. From fish eagles to baboons and big cats, there are many species who will eat a flamingo if they can get hold of it.

It is well worth seeing this animal in the wild. Seeing 750,000 lesser flamingos on lake nakuru in kenya is a site that is hard to forget.

Visits to see flamingos are well worth it, and while some live in remote places, it is usually a species which is reliable. Please get in touch if you work in tourism or conservation of this species. Click on list your wild place on the home page of the website.

Next the Grebes

While some sites claim 22 species, my list has found that some of these were extinct (indeed, according to my list there were 3 species that have gone extinct. If there are any experts out there who notice one missing, let me know

We are eager as always to help people find places to see these birds. Do let me know if you work in wildlife tourism or run a place to stay where these birds are regularly seen. Click on list your wild place on the front page of the website.



Birds are defined as warm-blooded vertebrates. They have feathers, toothless beaked jaws, a high metabolic rate, a 4 chamber heart, a strong and lightweight skeleton and the laying of hard-shelled eggs.

Now, within these constraints, the birds vary a great deal.

The smallest bird is the bee hummingbird, which has a wingspan of 6.8cm. The largest bird has a wingspan of 3.5m (40 times large). In terms of weight, the bee hummingbird is also the lightest at just 1.95 grams, the Kori bustard weighs as much as 19kg, which is almost 10000 times heavier (heaviest flying bird). The heaviest bird is the Ostrich, which can weigh over 100kg, though these can not fly.

Looking at it in a different way, there are roughly 10,000 species of birds in the world. Now, while this may change as this website grows (both with other authors, and assistance from readers) at the current time, it would be absurd to think that I could build a page for each of these many species. What this page will try to do, is to build a page for each group of birds. Of course, the other point of this website, is that this is to assist in people travelling to see these species in the wild. As such, while I am fully of the opinion that every bird matters, we will concentrate- to begin with, on birds which are popular and/or are interesting to see.

To start, below you will see the initial 2 clades (it should be noted that there was at one time 7 clades, which include clades like Diosaruia), and each clade has two families. 

                                   Palaeognathae (ratites and Tinamou)                                                                                                               Neognathae


This contains just 1 species the Osterich (alongside many extinct species). The male is black, the female is brown

 As this is all of the Struthionimorphae family, you will be able to visit the Osterich page by clicking on either image.


This contains Rheas, Cassowaries, Emus, Kiwis and Tinamous (as well as the extinct Moas and Elephant bird)

This family includes a number of species so as we build pages, they will be linked to images below (the pictures for these species in directly below here)


There are two subgroups in this group, though Asterionis is extinct. The only other group is Galloanserae or fowl – containing 

180  water-fowl (Anseriformes) species

  290 Land-fowl (Galliformes) Species.



This contains the rest of the birds not already included in another group. This is roughly 95% of birds.

Now, Understandably, this group covering 95% of birds, we will not be listing every species. However, we will endeavour to list groups of interest down to a lower level- I know that there is a great deal of interest in birds, and I will rely on this website taking off to a greater degree in order to push this further

This family is large and varied. We are going to start with currently agreed “magnificent seven” supraordinal clades, as well as the three orphaned orders. 



Primate family tree main and great and lesser apes

Primate family tree

The primates are in some ways one of the most successful families. It is true that many are now endangered, however, unfortunately, that is as a result of the run-away success of the most successful member of the primate family us! Having left the rainforests behind, we have been reducing their coverage dramatically over the last few centuries. 

The sad thing, is that while we have pushed many of our closest cousins towards extinction, the loss of forests may well cost us dearly in the future as well. As a species, we need to pull together to meet this challenge. in order to jump to the various families, click on the family of interest above – though all can also be reached by scrolling down.

Great Apes

Great ape Family split is thought to have split from its nearest relative – the gibbon family, around 17 million years ago.

4 million years later the Orangutan family split from the gorilla line and the human/chimp line.

3 million years after this (so around 10 million years ago) the gorilla family split from the Homo (humans) and Pan

Finally the human line (homo) split from the Pan line 5-6 million years ago.

It should be noted, that chimpanzees and Bonobos split from a common ancestor just 1.8 million years ago. This occurred as the two populations ceased to be able to have contact with each other – the Congo rive formed between 1.5 and 2 million years ago.

For more information on each species, click on their photo and this will take you to their page

It should be noted that while I have grouped eastern western and skywalker gibbon together, there is some contention that the skywalker gibbon should be in its own genus, having diverged around half a million years aog


aaa Lake Turkana and its national parks

Lake Turkana and its national parks

Lake Turkana is a lake with 3 rivers entering it (no rivers leave, it evaporates) . It lies in the eastern part of the great rift valley. The three parks are  Sibiloi National Park, the South Island and the Central Island National Parks, covering a total area of 161,485 hectares located within the Lake Turkana basin whose total surface area is 7 million ha. The lake is the most saline in africa which means little can survive in its waters.

This area is not the largest protected zone, as it only covers around 700 square miles. The island parks are the breeding habitats of the Nile crocodile, the hippopotamus amphibious and several snake species. The lake is an important flyway passage and stopover for palaeartic migrant birds. Over the dry grasslands ranges a frail population of grazing mammals and predators. The grazers are chiefly Grevy’s zebra, Burchell’s zebra, the beisa oryx, Grant’s gazelle, the topi and the reticulated giraffe. They are hunted by the lion and the cheetah. Elephants and the black rhinoceroses are no longer seen. Closer to the dust is the cushioned gerbil (Gerbillus pulvinatus)


Photo credit Ross Couper


Altaileopard https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Altaileopard – Own work using: File:Lion_distribution.png Scientific source: Bertola, L. D., Jongbloed, H., Van Der Gaag, K. J., De Knijff, P., Yamaguchi, N., Hooghiemstra, H., … & Tende, T. (2016). Phylogeographic patterns in Africa and high resolution delineation of genetic clades in the lion (Panthera leo). Scientific Reports, 6, 30807.

Lions- often referred to as ‘The king of the jungle’ (odd as they are rarely found in the jungle) are usually one of the animals visitors want to see if not the main one.

They are very impressive and it is understandable why they are popular. No other predator dares lie out dozing in the open plains all day.

However over the last few decades, lion declines have been horrific, with declines of more than 2/3 since the 1960s.

Lion conservation is important, because to have a thriving lion population, you need a very large protected area, and an intact ecosystem- so all the other animals benefit. I have used a large variety of sources to compile this, but one study of great interest is “Lion conservation in West and Central Africa” by Hans Bauer, published in 2003. In 1996 the estimate for the lion population in Africa was thought to be between 30,000 and 100,000, however the IUCN African Lion Working Group suggested a more realistic number was 18,000-27,000. They also suggested, that of 38 reserves and parks across these regions that used to have lions, they are definitely lost from 23.

The Asiatic lion is different; Its only current home in Asia, is the Gir forests of western India. However, something that many people do not know is that the Asiatic lion population of Gir is a tiny relict of possibly the largest spread lion subspecies. The Asiatic lion still exists in Africa – the western and northern lion population are very closely related to the Asiatic lion and are thought to have last naturally interbred a few centuries ago. Importantly, they are still so genetically similar that they are not different sub species. This is important, as it means that only just over half of the Asiatic lions live in and around Gir, the rest live in Africa. I hope to add many more destinations over time. If you run safari lodge or camp or tours please do get in touch through the above link “list your wild place”. We are keen to list as many of the places to see wild lions as possible. 

It should be noted, that in historic times the Asiatic lion population spread as far as Spain, though the last ones were likely lost around the time of Jesus. Asiatic lions survived in the Caucuses for far longer, surviving until around the end of the first millennium (1000AD). Ecologically, the conditions of Southern and Eastern Europe have not changed much in the last millennium. However, until a significant change in human habitation, there is no space for lions to return to this area.

Current estimates suggest that at most there are 20,000 lions in Africa (Some suggest 20,000-25,000, though LionAid did a thorough assessment of the lions on the continent in 2020 and came up with just 9200). If this lower number is correct, then there is no longer more than 10,000 wild lions in the world. Having said that, below is the 5 largest populations, which are relatively well known, and these add up to above that number. Time will tell.

As keystone species, and apex predators, lions are incredibly important, as such it is a species that is followed closely on this website.  On each tab, you will find a list of articles about that species. Find below a list of articles on lions, below that is links to places we list where you can see lion. Please note, tab 2 and 3 refer to two separate populations of the Asiatic subspecies if only recently confirmed through genetic testing.


As you can see from the map above, the name African lion is not particularly accurate, given that half of Africa was inhabited by the Asian Lion. Still, even taking into account this number of African lions which belong to the Asiatic lion subspecies, still the population of African lion subspecies account for the majority of lions left in the world. It should be noted, that while Tanzania is still claiming a lion population of 14,000-15,000 Lionaid survey in 2020 claimed around 9600 in the world, so someone is definitely wrong. The image at the top of the page is an African Lion.

Over time, I hope that the destinations that we list on this site will grow fast, but for now we list the large lion ecosystems- hopefully with a few more coming soon

1. Kruger national park, and the greater Limpopo 2500                          

2. Serengeti and surrounding reserves 3000 

3. Kalahari Zambezi 1500 (though with the size of this

 reserve, there is space for much growth)

4. Selous (Nyerere national pakr 4000-5000 though as most of this vast reserve is set aside for hunting, much if it is unavailable to photographic safari (latest survey suggests 4300)

5. Ruaha national park (Tanzania) 4000

This accounts for around anything from 40% up to 64% (it is likely to be at the top end of this estimate as this includes the biggest lion populations of Africa) on the lions of african depending on which estimate you trust. Indeed, given Lionaids estinate, it accounts for as much as 167%.  We hope to add other populations in the coming years.

While it is undeniable that the lion populations in the East and South of the continent have reduced, there would have to have been a significant population in west and north of the continent as well. While, clearly, much of this space has been lost to human expansion, there is still much space for a great increase in this population, whether it ever gets a chance to grow is something we will have to wait and see.

Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there ar

e actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So here, the west African Lion clade:

1. W-Arly-Pendjari Transfrontier park was estimated to hold 250-500 members (it should be noted that it is likely close the botto at the current time)

2. Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba national park formerly a stronghold, the number of lions as low as 30 at the moment (down from as high as as 120 in 1996)

3. Waza national park, Cameroon is was thought to host 14-21 lions in 2010, I  dont know what has happened since

4. Kainji Lake National Park, Nigeria is thought to host around 30, while Yankara may only have 5 left.       

5. Bénoué ecosystem: (Faro, Bénoué and Bouba-Ndjidda national parks as well as 32 hunting areas, covering 30,000 square km) contains 250 lions 

Are these over-estimates? A significant number of sources claim just 250 in the world, though others suggest around 400. Having said that, should we assume the minimum population for the WAP complex and Benoue estimate being accurate (studies are recent and thorough) this gets us to to over 400 already. 


What is unfortunate though is the populations in the other 3 reserves. 

Having said that, back around 1900 there was only an estimated 20 lions left in India, so a similar recovery could give each of these reserves a 400 population in 50 or so years. I would estimate given the reliability of these numbers that at the time of the study in 2020 the total population numbered around 800. though even half of this would be enough for a recovery over a relatively short term.

The western and the central lion population was (relatively recently) far larger. 1900 it is thought that there may have been as many as 200,000. Even as recently as 1970 there were thought to have been 90,000.

Unfortunately, at the current time, I have no links in these place – but would love to, please get in touch if you work in one of these reserves, we would love to help people find you.


Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there are actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So the central African lion is thought to have a population of around 2200 (as of 2015-2016): I have not been able to calculate a proper number for this, I hope to have more information in the future.


Asiatic lion from the Gir fores

Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there are actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So the North African and Asiatic clade: The north African lion, otherwise known as the Barbary lion, was lost some time ago (the last one was shot in 1942). However, there has been much discussion about reintroducing them to Morocco, for some time. It could well be done in the near future. 

The rest of this clade (remembering that the West and Central African lions are the same subspecies as this) are found in the Gir forests of India. This population is thought to be as high as 600, though deaths have been particularly high for a significant period of time. This population only currently has one protected home, from which the lions are overflowing- the Gir forest. The forest is home to as many as 600 lions, though only covering 1400 square km (545 miles) the best reserves in Africa have roughly 1 lion per every 5 square miles. Many of these lions live outside, with as many as 200 having made their home by the sea, a great distance form the park.


Scientists have long argued that some of the lions should be moved to another reserve as having all of them in one place leaves the entire clade vulnerable to natural disasters or indeed an epidemic. Indeed, it has gone all the way to the high court in India, but the Chief minister of Gujarat has simply refused to enforce the order (he does not want to loose the status of housing the only wild Asiatic lion (at least the Asiatic clade). There was much effort to give the Indian lions a second home, but the government saw them as their property and refused to allow any to be moved. The proposed home was set up for them – the Kuno reserve, with a number of villages moved to accommodate them. The Gujarat government has suggested all sorts of reasons to refuse, including that the reserve is unacceptable – despite being almost identical to Gir.

Kuno is now the home of the cheetah reintroduction (not that this should rule it out, as they lived alongside each other in the past, and from where they have been moved). Never-the-less, Gujurat has refused to budge even having lost the case in the supreme court.


It seems absurd that something this important can be held up because of politics but there we are. There are plans to move 40 lions to Barda wildlife sanctuary, which would at least give a second home. However, given the Asiatic Lions historical range covering such a vast area, the idea that one state in India could block translocations to anywhere else is quite scary. 

Never-the less, it is still a fascinating place to visit.


Limpopo Transfrontier park including Kruger sabi sands and other conservation areas
Greater Serengeti

Could lakes become water deserts, devoid of life?

As water warms up, its ability to hold oxygen decreases. This is unfortunate for the plants and wildlife that live in these waters as they cannot survive without oxygen.

Unfortunately in a recent study it became clear that this is occurring in lakes around the world.

It is true that this impact is not being had at all levels of lakes to the same degree. Unfortunately, the majority water life is very depth sensitive and are uncapable of changing their habits to survive this change.

This is a new, and less considered threat of global warming. Unfortunately it could have significant negative effects on the world.

It is unfortunately possible that in the short term this is irreversible, it is merely one more signpost to require us to change our ways faster.

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