[Oversea] Judgement day for Africa flamingos

Judgement day for Africa flamingos

News from BirdLife International


Judgement day for Africa flamingos

The enormous clouds of pink flamingos that grace the skies of East Africa and ring the edges of some of its most scenic lakes with a bright band of living colour may soon be a thing of the past if the path is cleared today (November 2) for a major industrial development on a remote and isolated lake in Africa Great Rift Valley.

Officials in Tanzania are to assess plans for a soda ash plant on Lake Natron, the world's single most important breeding site for the Near Threatened Lesser Flamingo, where more than a million of these beautiful birds nest.

They will advise Environment Minister Mark Mwandosya on whether to allow Lake Natron Resources, jointly owned by the Tanzanian Government and the Indian company TATA Chemicals, to pump more than 100,000 litres of freshwater and 550,000 litres of brine (saltwater) from the area every hour, for the production of soda ash, a material used in glass and dye production.

The lake is the only reliable breeding site in East Africa for the Lesser Flamingo. All the 1.5 - 2.5 million Lesser Flamingos alive in East Africa today were probably hatched at Lake Natron - Africa's "flamingo factory".  

A coal-fired power station, road and rail links and housing for 1,200 construction workers would be built at the site. The development would seriously harm tourism in three countries, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, and could cause Lake Natron international wetland designation to be withdrawn.

The leaders of conservation groups in 23 African countries have signed a petition urging the Tanzanian government to turn down the proposal and their campaign has been backed by naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.