Have you ever been taking a walk in the woods or the beach and see something that just doesn’t look right? It can be jarring. Your gut tells you that something isn’t quite right, but you can’t put your finger on it. That’s what happened when someone came across this sprawling group of flamingo nests, but there was one problem. The parents were nowhere to be seen.

Flamingoes are often looked upon as fairly majestic creatures. With their tall stature, skinny legs, and pink color, humans have been taking kindly to them for what feels like forever, lining their yards with the pink bird decorations all across the world. So when the water levels started getting lower in South Africa, it was pretty obvious that humans would do everything they could to come to their rescue.

Kamfers Dam is in Kimberly, Northern Cape province in southern Africa. It is known as one of southern Africa’s largest flamingo populations, and soon it was expected to grow much, much larger. Then, this happened.

The parents of over 11,000 flamingo eggs at Kamfers Dam recognized the water level lowering in the dam and made a quick escape to save themselves. However, they left their eggs and newly hatched baby flamingoes there to die.

That’s when the humans took action.

Authorities and volunteers helped transport 3,000 eggs and baby flamingoes to various locations throughout southern Africa in order to help increase the babies’ chances of survival. While that may seem like a wonderful thing, it gets a bit worse when you realize that about 8,000 eggs and chicks are either dead in the dam already or in extreme danger there, seeing as they can’t fly to safety quite yet.

Additionally, the eggs and baby flamingoes aren’t altogether too easy to take care of. Shelters are doing everything they can to provide the numerous chicks with their diet, but without parents there, it’s not too easy. That comes with its own complications.

Feather dusters were placed in the baby flamingoes’ quarters in order to act as a mother figure. These babies are looking to imprint with their mother and without her there, they need warmth and comfort and someone to connect to. Let’s hope the feather dusters can do that for them.

While volunteers may be tempted to act as a mother to the baby flamingoes, authorities know better. Baby flamingoes will actually imprint with humans if they are cared for by them, so interaction with humans in these shelters is prohibited. If a baby flamingo imprinted with a human only to be released shortly after, it could cause some extreme heartbreak.

The eggs that have not yet hatched have to be put in incubators in order to save them and to potentially increase their chances of survival. It hasn’t been an easy transition thus far, but here’s to hoping that these baby flamingoes will be well taken care of until they learn how to fly.

People are still searching for remaining baby chick and egg survivors in the Kamfers Dam, but it’s not looking too good. Authorities believe that this might only be the first of the tragedies to take place.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Nature Conservation says if the water levels keep dropping, flamingo parents will continue to travel in order to save themselves, meaning this could happen again and again if heavy rainfall doesn’t hit soon.

How does this tragedy make you feel?