A Million Flamingos again - but where are the pelicans?
Lake Nakuru National Park is alive again after flamingos recently rediscovered their old home which they had deserted for over two years. The lake is now teeming with a million flamingos again and the pink shoreline which has traditionally been the park's trademark is now restored, hopefully for good.
The flamingo is an elegant pink bird that inhabits saline waters of East Africa. And it is highly gregarious often forming large flocks that are a fascinating spectacle to watch especially when flying and courtship displays. The East African lakes are estimated to host 95% of the world flamingo population which are confined in four lakes: Lakes Manyara and Natron in Tanzania and Lakes Nakuru and Bogoria in Kenya.
Lake Nakuru is often tipped by researchers as flamingos' favourite feeding site and has recorded a population of nearly 2 million birds in the past earning the respectable name as the "home of million flamingos" besides its international reputation as the "biggest ornithological site on earth" on account of the incredibly high biomass of water birds that stuns every visitor.
For the last two years, however, flamingos had virtually deserted Lake Nakuru, inviting all manner of speculation from researchers and managers. It was blamed on receding water volume, pollution of the lake and even loss of salinity in the water, none of which sounded convincing especially now that flamingos have come back in the thick of those very circumstances! Intermittent deaths last year also caused some scare in the travel industry as it coincided with anxiety surrounding possible spread of bird flu into East Africa.
Mystery of Flamingos
Flamingos' come back, while most welcome, has however raised more questions than answers: First, why did they flee Lake Nakuru for two years? Perhaps it is just in keeping with their tag of mystery. In 1958, Leslie Brown published The Mystery of Flamingos which documents many things that were unknown then. And it seems flamingos are determined to remain a mysterious species to the foreseeable future. Secondly, where are the pelicans, the stoutly elegant birds that had invaded the park around Njoro River mouth and Baharini Springs? The mystery depends.
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