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Lake Nakuru water levels rise as flamingoes move to Lake Bogoria

Date Published: 03 Aug, 2012
Lake Nakuru water levels rise as flamingoes move to Lake Bogoria

A handful of flamingoes at lake Nakuru National Park.

Millions of flamingoes have temporarily moved from Lake Nakuru to Lake Bogoria leaving behind a few hundreds owing to a reduction in their food supply.

This has been caused by a unique phenomenon of rising water to levels last experienced over 60 years ago at Lake Nakuru National Park.

The remaining population of over 450 bird species including pelicans, storks and gulls as well numerous species of migratory birds have increased tremendously. The previously elusive hippos are now easier to see.

The reduction in grasslands by the rising water levels has made it easier to view the rest of the thriving mammalian population in the park. These include buffalos, baboons, impalas, bushbacks and waterbucks.

For the first time, the lake is displaying numerous waves, a new attraction in the park. 

The increase in water levels reduces the salinity of water in the lake thereby reducing algae, the main food for flamingoes.  

Water levels have risen by as high as 2 metres, submerging sections of acacia forest and reducing the salinity of the water, thereby rendering the aquatic habitat unsuitable for flamingoes for the time being.

The hitherto seasonal rivers including Njoro, Makalia, Nderit, Naishi and Larmudiak have flowed continuously for the last one year due to improved hydrology as a result of conservation efforts in the Mau Complex.

The more than one million flamingoes have since moved to Lake Bogoria in Baringo County, 100 km away.

Scientists have attributed the changes in the size and depth of the lake to increasing human population, rapid land use changes in Lake Nakuru catchment area, and climate variability.

The large scale changes in the water level and salinity is expected to have major ecological implications on the lake and its environs. Other threats are related to pollution by industrial and domestic wastes, and agrochemical pollutants from farm lands. Threats may be summarized as follows:

  • Lake level fluctuations arising from irregular recharge by inflow rivers and declining ground water systems being caused by inadequate water conservation measures in the catchment.
  • Changes in water quality as a result of excessive nutrients in the lake.
  • Catchment degradation due to felling of vast tracts of forested land.
  • Siltation and eutrophication arising from inappropriate land use systems in the catchment, agrochemical runoffs from unsustainable agricultural practices and effluents.
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