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Rising Water Levels Threaten Wildlife Survival In Lake Nakuru
08 Aug 2013

Xinhua News


Kenyas Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the most attractive sites in East and Central Africa due to its fame of being the home to beautiful flamingoes and second largest sanctuary for the Rothschild species of giraffe, popularly known as the ‘Baringo giraffes’ in the world.



But the recurrent heavy rains have posed a threat to the survival of the wildlife as water from Lake Nakuru is flooding part of the park located about 140 km northwest of Nairobi.



According to the parks senior warden John Wambua, the flooding mainly uproots the acacia trees which the herbivorous animals in the park feed on.



‘During the heavy rains, the water banks perimeter rise from the normal 42 square km to about 60 square km,’ Wambua said.



‘The overflow uproots shallow-rooted acacia trees among other vegetation that herbivores depend on. Their reduction is a big threat to the survival of the wildlife as the species takes approximately 20 years to mature,’ he told Xinhua in Nakuru.



When the park which lies in Nakuru County within the Rift Valley region floods, the parks senior warden says, the flamingoes which take the largest proportion of tourist attraction in the East Africans state premium park flee hence reducing their population.



‘Basically the flamingoes flee to other areas in search of food because as the lake floods, the water salinity reduces affecting the growth of the blue-green algae which is the flamingos main food,’ adds Wambua.



Flooding is a similar spectacle to other Rift Valley lakes namely Elementaita, Bogoria and Magadi where the bird species thrive.



Even as the flooding causes disaster in the park, it is propellant to resurfacing of the wildlife which makes it easier for the parks personnel to undertake their quarterly population census.



Usually the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) partakes population census quarterly for the animals and twice a year for the birds.



‘This is the time you can easily find the wildlife which has been forced to move out of their comfort zones. To both local and foreign tourists is quite a spectacle as you get to see what you may have not seen before,’ notes Wambua.



The heavy rains, he says have not been a major hindrance to the normal tourist visitations to the park.



In a day, Wambua says they receive an average of 800 visitors but the number goes up to more than 1, 500 during the peak season from August to December.



The oldest sanctuary in Kenya having been established in 1984 has not been spared either from the illegal poachers attacks targeting the rhinos.



The KWS-managed Park is used as a breeding ground to replenish rhino stocks at other national parks and private wildlife conservancies in the East African state. Since January to August, the park has already lost two white rhinos to poachers.



The 188 square km Lake Nakuru National Park was established as a rhino sanctuary in 1984 and solar powered electric fenced constructed around it two years later by Rhino Rescue Trust.



It is the first and the largest government-managed rhino sanctuary which is home to both the docile white rhinos and their rather hostile and aggressive relatives, the black rhinos.



At the current population level, Wambua says, the park has more than 100 white and black rhinos.



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