Flamingos may be homeless as lake dries up

KENYA'S LAKE Nakuru, one of the world's great natural spectacles and home to more than a million flamingos, is in imminent danger of drying up, conservationists have warned.

The sight of the birds taking flight in a dense pink cloud has become essential viewing for hundreds of thousands of tourists on safari in Kenya, but the lake is dying because of deforestation around the national park and water levels are dropping dramatically. Joseph Warutere, national park warden at the lake, said that without protection Nakuru could disappear.

Local business leaders said its loss would have a catastrophic effect on tourism. Peter Kinya, chairman of the Nakuru Business Association, said the time for action had come. "We cannot afford to lose such an important national heritage by sitting back and watching man-made activities destroy it," he told the Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper. "We have to rise up and protect our lake."

Lake Nakuru is one of a chain of soda lakes that stretches along the Great Rift Valley. Along with neighbouring Lake Bogoria, it is home to the planet's highest density of flamingos - about 80 per cent of the world's population live around the eastern Rift Valley lakes.

The flamingos, along with hundreds of other bird species, attract 200,000 visitors to the park each year, making it one of the east African country's biggest tourist attractions.

Recent studies suggest that the lake has shrunk by roughly four square miles since the 1970s, as tributaries dried up and soil was washed from deforested slopes into its waters.

And as water levels decrease, levels of toxic metals such as zinc, mercury and copper from industrial run-off have all increased - bringing a catastrophic threat to wildlife.

Mr Kinya cited the draining of poisonous chemicals into the lake, which he said was killing birds and fish. The presence of heavy metals was blamed four years ago for the death of 40,000 flamingos.

Conservationists have also warned that sewage from growing human settlements around the lake is finding its way into the water, leading to explosions of algal growth, starving other organisms of oxygen. Yesterday, Joseph Muya, vice-chairman of the Friends of Lake Nakuru, said that the lake was too important to lose. His organisation has planted thousands of seedlings in the area to reverse deforestation, and attempted to persuade farmers not to take water from the shallow lake for irrigation.

"Everyone knows about the flamingos but we have a rhino sanctuary here too, along with 450 different species of birds," he said.

"That makes this site nationally and internationally important for wildlife, and means it has a huge economic importance to the local population." The importance of the lake was recognised in 1960 when it became Africa's first bird sanctuary, becoming a fully-fledged national park eight years later.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
News
British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking
people
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...

Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Contract Manager - London

£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Engineer is required to...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Hull - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum + £4200 car allowance: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Suppo...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence