[Oversea] Africa's leading conservationists meet as chemical plant threatens three-quar

Africa's leading conservationists meet as chemical plant threatens three-quar

News from BirdLife International


Africa's leading conservationists meet as chemical plant threatens three-quarters of world's Lesser Flamingo

Leading conservationists from 24 African nations have today met to sign a petition opposing the proposed chemical plant on the shores of Tanzania’s Lake Natron, which threatens 75% of the world’s Lesser Flamingo.

The petition was signed by delegates of BirdLife’s Council for the Africa Partnership (CAP) in Nairobi and follows months of speculation and international outcry over the proposed salt ash development on Tanzania’s border with Kenya.

More than half a million pairs of Lesser Flamingos may nest at Lake Natron. The lake is the only reliable breeding site for the species' East African population – more than 75 per cent of the world’s total.

Lake Natron's isolation and vast salt flats provide crucial safety from predators, while its alkaline waters, rich in cyanobacteria, and lakeside springs supply food and freshwater for parents and chicks. The lake supports the huge concentrations of Lesser Flamingos that feed and roost on other lakes up and down the Rift Valley, hailed as “the greatest ornithological spectacle in the world” and supporting a thriving tourist economy.

The proposed salt ash plant would pump 530 cubic metres of brine per hour and produce 0.5 million tons of sodium carbonate a year. The large-scale development would also include a sizable residential complex.

Delegates attending the BirdLife Council Meeting fear that the entire flamingo population could be lost if the development goes ahead, citing a number of reasons, including: likely changes in the chemical composition of the water (affecting the cyanobacteria on which the flamingos depend); disruption of nest sites; and expansion of surrounding infrastructure, a factor which could bring in new predators, particularly Marabou Stork – a species linked to mass nest desertions in breeding Greater Flamingo, a similar species.