Kenya's 'flamingo lake' threatened by contamination

Over course of last decade, large number of Lake Nakuru’s flamingos have died for unknown reasons

Kenya's 'flamingo lake' threatened by contamination

World Bulletin / News Desk

 Said to be one of the world’s most remarkable ornithological sites due to its millions-strong flamingo population, Lake Nakuru is a vast body of water in Kenya’s Rift Valley province. 

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, the lake is also home to more than 56 different mammal species, 300 plant species and more than 450 species of terrestrial birds. 

The flamingos feed on the algae that the lake produces as a result of its large salt content. 

More than 2.5 million flamingos migrate annually between the Rift Valley’s many salt lakes, with their main breeding site being Tanzania’s Lake Natron. 

In 2011, the lake was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. The lake is also recognized by the Ramsar Convention, formally known as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

Over the course of the last decade, a large number of Lake Nakuru’s flamingos have died for unknown reasons – a phenomenon that environment experts blame on the toxins they say contaminate the lake’s waters. 

The German government, meanwhile, has pledged 14 million euros to help detoxify the body of water. 

Speaking to Anadolu Agency by phone, Lina Dunnzlaff of the KWF, a German development bank, said the money would go toward detoxification efforts. 

“The 14 million euros will aid in detoxifying the lake. The funding will also go towards managing wastewater in the lake and ensuring that we conserve wildlife at Lake Nakuru National Park,” Dunnzlaff said. 

According to Jackson Raini, a research scientist based at Lake Nakuru, local residents dump large amounts of waste in the lake, worsening the situation further. 

“The [low] water levels have also hindered the natural purification of the lake and the rivers that drain their water into the lake,” Raini told Anadolu Agency. “Alcohol distillers in Nakuru dump their waste into the rivers that drain into the lake,leading to water toxicity that affects the ecosystem.” 

These toxins harm aquatic animals and plants, which in turn leads to the poisoning of the birds and animals that depend on the lake, either by ingesting poisoned food or drinking polluted water. 

“We have tried to raise awareness [of the issue] in Nakuru, but the situation hasn’t changed. It’s a very expensive affair to treat polluted water; much has to be done to stop this vice that is killing our flamingos,” Raini said. 

According to Irene Wahome, an environment expert from Egerton University in the town of Nakuru, the Kenyan government should step in to help save the exotic birds. 

“Pollution in the lake is killing the algae that is the main source of food for flamingos,” Wahome said. “If nothing is done, we risk losing all our flamingos.”

“I laud the German government for giving us this donation, as it will help provide a safe environment for Lake Nakuru’s wildlife, exotic trees and plants,” she added. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Haziran 2015, 10:56