Why Lake Naivasha is now a dangerous zone

Hippos on the shores of Lake Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The rising waters of Lake Naivasha has turned it into a dangerous zone where fishermen have perished, wild animals displaced and nearby structures submerged.

Over 30 people have died in the lake in the past one year, with a majority of them being illegal fishermen.

As more people enter the lake in search of daily bread, having lost their jobs due to Covid-19, there are fears that the numbers could rise.

Most of those who perished in the lake were crushed by hippos while others drowned.

Last week, two young people drowned near Karagita landing beach.

In a separate incident, two other people drowned after a boat they were travelling in capsized near Ngorongo in North Lake. The boat, which is not licensed, was carrying 14 people and 12 managed to hold onto the vessel until help arrived and they were rescued.

Lake Naivasha Boat Owners Association chairman David Kilo termed the problem at the lake serious, with many accessing the lake at will due to lack of patrol officers.

Kilo said sights of overloaded boats ferrying youths from one point of the lake to the other are common.

According to Kilo, who has been involved in rescue operations, 14 people were killed by hippos while over 20 have drowned while fishing along the shorelines last year.

“We fear that the numbers could rise this year as more jobless people enter into the lake,” he said.

Kilo, who is also a honorary warden, said currently the lake is in the hands of illegal fishermen who have become an authority onto themselves, threatening other stakeholders including licensed fishermen.

“The county government has totally ignored this lake in terms of funding and this has seen an influx of illegal activities which are now leading to these deaths,” he said.

Kilo said with an increase in the poaching activities and closure of wildlife corridors, the hippos have been ‘caged-in’ making them very wild.

“Currently, the lake levels have risen sharply, reducing grazing land for the hippos which in turn have turned their anger to fishermen,” he said.

Youths involved in spot-fishing activities around Lake Naivasha are ferried from Karagita landing beach to Ngorongo area in Kasarani for fishing. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Lucas Atieno from Central landing beach terms the lake in its current form as the most dangerous place to venture into.