By Ally Jamah
Lake Nakuru National Park, one of the leading tourist attractions has become the first park in Africa to be designated an important bird area.
"The new status is a huge boost to the parkâs marketing efforts as the worldâs greatest ornithological spectacle," says Kenya Wildlife Service Director Julius Kipngâetich.
World famous for its 1.5m stunning flocks of lesser flamingo, which literally turn its shores pink, the park is home to more than 450 birds.
Among the species are endangered Madagascar Pond-heron, near threatened grey-crested Helmet-shrike and Martial eagle. The site is also key for congregatory water birds such as the Greater Flamingo, African Spoonbill, Great White Pelican and Grey-headed Gull.
Important bird areas are key sites for conservation. They do one or more of three things: Hold significant numbers of one or more globally threatened species, are one of a set of sites that together hold a suite of restricted-range or biome-restricted species, or have exceptionally large numbers of migratory and congregatory species.
The global project, which identifies and conserves areas vital to the survival birds and other biodiversity, works with government agencies, community groups and other organisations.
Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa, says the new status would raise awareness and reduce stress on the lakeâs bird.
The recognition is a triumph for BirdLife Partner NatureKenya, which began identifying important bird areas in Kenya 14 years ago.
Kipngâetich says the award would roll back negative publicity that the lake, the mainstay of the park is dying out.
Four years ago, the park was branded as a bird watcherâs paradise by KWS under a national programme to transform national parks and reserves to world-class destinations and conservation areas.