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Lake Nakuru water rise prompts flamingo exit

06/08/2012 19:44:59

Many of the flamingos from Nakuru have moved north to Bogoria

Flamingos have moved to Bogoria for now
August 2012. A million flamingos have temporarily moved from Lake Nakuru to Lake Bogoria leaving behind just a few hundred owing to a reduction in their food supply. This has been caused by an unusal phenomenon of rising water to levels last experienced over 60 years ago at Lake Nakuru National Park. The increase in water levels reduces the salinity of water in the lake thereby reducing algae, the main food for flamingos.

Other birds have increased
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.

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

The high water levels mean that much of the plains game has become easier to see.

The high water levels mean that much of the plains game has become easier to see.

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

The majority of the more than one million flamingos have since moved to Lake Bogoria, 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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