In this highly caustic lake of Bogoria, this lesser flamingo wades in the shallow waters, seeking for food. With its beak held upside down and moving from left to right in a semi-circle fashion, meals of mostly blue-algae are filtered and eaten.
The Eastern Rift Valley Lakes are home to almost 75% of the world’s population of the lesser flamingo. Lake Bogoria is a major breeding ground, and at given periods can house up to 1 million of these pink beauties.
As these lakes are high in sodium carbonate, some years back Tata Chemicals set up shop next to Lake Magadi to mine soda from the area, significantly damaging their habitat and displacing them to Bogoria, Nakuru, Baringo, and Elementeita- all relatively smaller lakes.
The soda extraction industry contributes significantly towards the economic development of the area, however the population of these birds there is now minimal. The environment around Magadi exudes a commercial and industrial feel, and Orwellian multi-level dormitories for the soda ash factory workers are scattered in the somewhat, impoverished-looking surrounds. This is no place for any bird, let alone a threatened species.
Striking a balance between economic development and conservation is never a simple task, but hopefully, we’ll figure it out before it’s too late for these birds.