The scarlet, long-legged flamingoes are found in three major nesting groups in the West Indian region, Great Inagua being one of them (the others are in Yucatan, Mexico, and Bonaire Island in the Netherlands Antilles.) The more than 50,000 birds inhabiting 287 square miles of Inagua wilderness are protected by wardens employed by the Society for the Protection of the Flamingo in The Bahamas through the Bahamas National Trust, a statutory body set up in 1959.
The Roseate or West Indian flamingoes (Phoenicopterus ruber) were formerly also bred in Abaco, Andros, Rum Cay, the Exuma Cays, Long Island, Ragged Cays, Acklins, Mayaguana, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, several factors, including action by man, led to a reduction in their number. Charles B. Cory, a curator of birds in the Boston Society of Natural History, wrote at the end of the19th century that great numbers of young birds were killed before they were able to fly, and many were carried away alive to be sold to passing vessels, on which they died from want of care. Nowadays, thanks largely to action by the government and the National Trust, the flamingo is making a comeback.