29 May, 2008

Safari Notes: The Plight Of Lake Natron Flamingos

The Lake Natron soda ash project will proceed. That's what the Tanzanian National Development Corporation has decided. Contrary to what the NDC says, it (NDC) is not conscious and serious with preserving the environment and biodiversity of Lake Natron and protecting the World's most important breeding site for the lesser flamingos. The NDC is only serious and conscious about the millions of Dollars involved. The so called 'benefits' and 'development' that the project will bring to the area and its people, is nothing compared to the destruction and impact that the project will cause to the Lake and the area.

Three-quarters of the world population of Lesser Flamingos live and breed in East Africa. Many depend on Tanzania’s Lake Natron as a breeding site. Food is plentiful, nesting sites abound – and above all, the lake is isolated and undisturbed. But now, with the soda ash project, that will be no more. The 'multi million Dollar' project, by the Indian company Tata Chemicals - will extract about 500,000 tonnes of soda ash a year from Lake Natron, employ only about 500 people (many, if not most, will come from outside the area) and install pipes and roads across the lake. Which means that the hundreds of thousands of lesser flamingos that depend on the Lake for nesting, will be so disturbed that they will leave. The impact and repercussions will be felt only years later. Much later.

For years now, in both Kenya and Tanzania, flamingos have been dying in their thousands. Several reasons have been given for this; but the main reasons is undoubtedly: pesticides, pollution and intrusion. All caused by Man. Can the Lake Natron Flamingos be saved? We can only try, but time and again, when big business and money is involved - no one listens. Especially: politicians.

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