Disease in Kenya kills flamingoes

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

NAIROBI (AFP) - About 5,000 pink flamingoes have died of disease in western Kenya in the past two weeks, but veterinarians say the survival of one of Kenya's main tourist attractions is not endangered.

'It's nature's way of reducing overpopulation, Dr Richard Koch said yesterday. Kenya has an estimated 1 million flamingoes, living around lakes Nakuru and Bogoria in the western Rift Valley province. Western tourists on safari in Kenya flock to see the flamingoes around the two lakes.

Dr Koch said about 300 to 400 of the graceful birds, which are found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, were dying each day around the lakes from a bacterial infection. About 10,000 flamingoes have been infected with the Pseudomonas aeriginosa bacteria, present in the water in the two lakes, he said.

Climatic factors may have caused high concentrations of the bacteria. Wildlife officials are burning the birds' carcasses in an attempt to stem the spread of the infection. Dr Koch predicted that the epidemic would die down in about a month.