The return of Flamingos to Lake Nakuru

Flamingos at Lake Nakuru National Park on August 10,2020. (Photo: Kipsang Joseph)

Months after Lake Nakuru National Park was ranked among world’s most colourful lakes in the world by Conde Nast Traveller, a travel website, sightings of hundreds of flamingos are back to grace the lake after almost four years.

Although internationally recognized as a home of flamingos within the great rift, the increasing water levels had seen the disappearance of the birds within the lake. This year, numerous sightings of the birds that symbolises Nakuru are back in droves.

“The last time we saw such congregation was almost four years ago. The numbers have drastically been reducing but despite increasing water levels, flamingo populations seem bigger this year,” Mr Collins Ochieng’ Lake Nakuru senior warden said.

The return of flamingos from nesting and breeding season in Tanzania’s Lake Natron coincides with the tourism peak season, treating locals to phenomenon that was almost forgotten.

“The water levels have drastically increased within the Lake also changing the pH levels. The flamingos are however within the shores of some sections where blue-green algae, which their main food thrives. The return of flamingos also means a lot to hotels and those who love camping,” he said.

The section that currently hosts flamingos is shallow and exposed to sunlight, conditions which he says has seen the flamingos increasing by day unlike the former years where the birds made stopovers. In 2015, the lake topped among the world’s most colourful lakes.

KWS research scientist Joseph Edebe said water bird counts are usually conducted in January and July to know the population of different bird species within wetlands.

The count, however has not been conducted to ascertain the population as a result of covid-19 restrictions to contain the spread of the pandemic.

“The July count was not conducted because of the restrictions to contain Covid-19 pandemic as of now. However, sightings have been recorded but we cannot estimate the population,” Mr Edebe said. In May this year, Conde Nast, an international travel website released a list of 31 Most colourful Lakes in the world and Lake Nakuru was ranked 8th in the list.

In the ‘deep dive into these captivating bodies of water’, the travel website described the most colourful lakes of the world as spectacular and natural and might even make one forget about beaches altogether.

 A beautiful lake, the website describes, with its glassy, still surface and spectrum of colours, can showcase some of water's most mesmerizing qualities.  It notes that if their crystalline or wildly coloured waters in these lakes do not do the trick, then the diversity of wildlife they often attract just might.

“From frozen beauties in Russia to man-made wonders in the United States, these are the 31 most beautiful lakes in the world," the website notes.

Lake Nakuru is recognised for attracting a wide diversity of wildlife and despite the increase in water levels, the website describes the lake as still a sight to behold.

“Located in Kenya's Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru is known for attracting a wide diversity of wildlife to its algae-packed waters, including lions, leopards, and swarms of feeding flamingos. Although rising water levels over the past few years have led to a drop in salinity, and therefore, fewer lanky pink visitors, the protected area is still a sight to behold,” it notes.

Lake Nakuru National Park is also a sanctuary for endangered black rhinos and Rothschild giraffe.

Although the swelling lake had submerged some infrastructure within the lake, Mr Ochieng’ said Kenya Wildlife Service has so far put in over Sh40 Million towards re-routing of the roads that includes the construction of 57.2 kilometre-road.