Pink alert for East African flamingos

Posted by Laura Grant on November 27, 2007
Posted in Green News, Transport

Danger is looming over the horizon for the lesser flamingos of Lake Natron, one of Africa’s most spectacular birdy tourist attractions.

Plans to build a massive soda ash plant on the Rift Valley lake in northern Tanzania, where up to a million of the pink birds breed, have been temporarily halted while the developers, Lake Natron Resources, produce a “new and better environmental statement and consider other sites for soda ash extraction”, BirdLife International reports.
Lake Natron Resources is jointly owned by Indian company Tata Chemicals and the Tanzanian government, the report says.

Lake Natron is a shallow soda lake — its maximum depth is 50cm. Soda lakes have a high concentration of sodium carbonate which makes them unsuitable for people or livestock but provides ideal conditions for blue-green algae, also known as Spirulina, on which the flamigos feed.

Lake Natron is the most important nesting site of lesser flamingo in the world, with about 75 percent of the population breeding there, according to BirdLife. Conservation groups reportedly believe the proposed soda ash plant could drive away the flamingos and irreversibly damage the lake.

Another African important birding area survived a close call this year. A third of the Mabira Forest Reserve near Jinga in Uganda was on the verge of being turned into sugar plantations. But the Ugandan government decided to drop its plans for the land in October. An economic valuation of the forest reserve showed its value conserved would be more than that expected to be obtained from growing sugarcane, BirdLife reports.

To learn more about BirdLife International’s campaign to save Africa’s flamingos click here.


Leave a Reply