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Rare black flamingo returns to Cyprus

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Melani, a rare black female flamingo, has returned to her favourite Cyprus stop-over for the fifth time in seven years.

She has been sighted at the Akrotiri Salt Lake, a wetland area within a sovereign British Bases administration on the island.

The flamingo, which suffers from ‘melanism’, a genetic irregularity which turns it a dark brown or black, caused a global media storm when it first arrived in 2015.

Thomas Hadjikyriakou, the Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre manager, said he was thrilled to see the flamingo return again this year on her tenth birthday.

“Very few people had ever been fortunate enough to lay eyes on her in the past, so for her to return on her 10th birthday and seeing she is doing well is wonderful.

“Her return means that more people can enjoy this wonderful site and, of course, we are all very excited because it is the only flamingo of its kind in the world, and very little is known about it.”

Hadjikyriakou warned that people should not try to go near the bird or walk into the lake as it could disrupt its habitat.

Every year the flamingos flock to the salt lake to feed off of brine shrimps and Plankton, with many of them staying all-year round if the conditions remain perfect.

“The flamingos usually stay between October and February, but there is no way of telling how long the black flamingo will stay for.

“My advice would be to take the opportunity to see it now because we cannot be sure it will be back again next year, although it does seem to like it here.”

Cyprus lies on one of the four major migration flyways between Europe and Africa and millions of birds pass through mainly during autumn and spring.

The Akrotiri peninsula is an important ecosystem area, which includes marshlands that host several species of local and migratory birds.

If you wish to see Melani, visit the Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre. (www.sbaadministration.org/index.php/aeec).