Lake Nakuru National Park

Nakuru National Park

Nakuru means “Dust or Dusty Place” in the Masai language. Lake Nakuru National Park, close to Nakuru town, was established in 1961. It started off small, only encompassing the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity, but has since been extended to include a large part of the savannah.

Lake Nakuru National Park is 188 km2, and it is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingoes nesting along the shores. The surface of the shallow lake was often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. The number of flamingos on the lake varies with water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from baboon cliff. Also of interest is an area of 188 km2 around the lake fenced off as a sanctuary to protect Rothschild giraffes as well as both black and white rhinos.

Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes at an elevation of 1754 m above sea level. It lies to the south of Nakuru and is protected by Lake Nakuru National Park.

The lake’s abundance of algae used to attract a vast quantity of flamingoes that famously lined the shore.

The lake’s level has dramatically increased leading to the migration of flamingos to Lake Bogoria in search for food supply.

Lake Nakuru is protected under the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.

The park has recently been enlarged partly to provide the sanctuary for the black rhinos. This undertaking has necessitated a fence – to keep out poachers rather than to restrict the movement of wildlife.

Waterbucks are very common and both the Kenyan species are found here. Among the predators are lions, leopards and hyenas. The park also has large sized pythons that inhabit the dense woodlands, and can often be seen crossing the roads or dangling from trees.

There are myriad other bird species that inhabit the lake and the area surrounding it, such as African fish eagle, Goliath heron ,hammerkop, pied kingfisher and Verreaux eagle. The lake is world-famous as the location of the greatest bird spectacle on earth – myriads of fuchsia pink flamingoes whose numbers are legion, often more than a million – or even two million. They feed on the abundant algae which thrives in the warm waters. Scientists reckon that the flamingo population at  L. Nakuru consumes about 250,000 kg of algae per hectare of surface area per year.

There are two types of flamingoes species: the greater and the lesser flamingoes. The lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater, which has a bill with a black tip.

The flamingo feed on algae, created from their droppings mixing in the warm alkaline waters, and planktons. Also present are two large fish eating birds, pelicans and cormorants. Despite the tepid and alkaline waters, a diminutive fish, Alcolapia grahami  has flourished after being introduced in the early 1960s. The lake is rich in other bird life. There are over 400 resident species on the lake and in the surrounding park.

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