Kenya: Key Lakes Succumb to Human Activities

Rift Valley — Several years ago, Lakes Kamnarok and Ol Bollosat in Kenya were vibrant water bodies that supported and shaped the ecosystems around them. But today they are shells of their former selves, due to heavy siltation caused by human activities.

“Siltation is still happening, the lake is drying up and this is threatening Lake Kamnarok and the wildlife with extinction, besides affecting the lives of people around it,” Elijah Chemitei, senior warden in Baringo County, in the Rift Valley Province, told IPS. “Much of it is caused by upstream activities like tree-felling and charcoal-burning, agricultural activities, grazing and sand collection.”

Lake Kamnarok, in the arid county of Baringo, is the only oxbow lake (a crescent-shaped lake that is formed when a meander of a river is cut off from the main channel) in the country. It used to have the second-largest population of crocodiles in Africa, after Lake Chad.

“The crocodiles at the lake used to be over 30,000 in population; they are now less than 5,000 after many died while others prefer to inhabit the Kerio River that formed the lake. Wild animals at the Rimoi Game Reserve next to the lake are endangered and tourism in general is in jeopardy,” says Chemitai. Roy Kiplagat, a resident in Baringo County, says the displacement of the crocodiles has meant that domestic animals are now in danger of becoming prey.

“This is happening at Kerio Valley through which the Kerio River passes. Crocodiles that have moved out of the river have killed many goats as they drink water,” he says.

Chemitei says that Lake Kamnarok has become increasingly shallow, decreasing in size from 10 square kilometres to two square kilometres. He says people are felling trees, burning charcoal and farming in the nearby indigenous forests. So when it rains the soil is washed down into the lake.

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Posted by on Feb 11 2012. Filed under Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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