Nakuru National Park

Nakuru is one of the alkaline Rift Valley lakes and a fantastic bird sanctuary, its shores populated at times by more than one million flamingoes. The famous ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson defined it as "the greatest bird spectacle on earth". The fortunate sentence has now become a cliché and is used up to fed-up-ism for promotional purposes. Sadly, along the past years flamingoes have vanished sporadically to reappear later in a similarly weird way, but flocks are now greatly reduced.

The park was gazetted in 1968, but since 1961 there was a bird sanctuary at the lake's south sector. With the help of the World Wildlife Fund, Kenyan government started a plan to purchase the adjacent grounds in order to widen the protected area. In 1964 the sanctuary yet included the whole lake, whose surface varies from 5 to 40 km², in addition to a shore strip. The park limits in 1968 and 1974 has been extended to its current extension of 188 km². Although the pictures on this page don't let it show, the truth is that the park lies only 4 km off the populous Nakuru town.

This poses various consequences, almost all negative for the conservation of this natural area. After Nairobi National Park, this is the second most accessible park, since Nakuru is the fourth city in the country and the headtown of the Rift Valley. Hence the park receives a high visitor number, more than 100,000 every year, of which a great proportion corresponds to Kenyan citizens and residents.

But traffic is not the only nor the biggest of the threats: uncontrolled dumping from the nearby city produces a strong environmental degradation, to such an extent that at critical times flamingoes have completely vanished from the park. In 1994-95 there were massive flamingo deaths caused by water poisoning with heavy metals and toxins, due to a combination of climatic and human factors that favoured the overgrowth of cyanobacteria and toxic blue-green algae. This resulted in the start up of a program aimed at processing Nakuru's industrial and urban residues, water and pollution monitoring and protection of the lake basin.

On the other hand, encroachment of the environment by the surrounding population and of the rhinos by poachers urged to fence the park perimeter with 74 km of metal wire. The first fence was erected in 1976 and reinforced ten years later with a sun-powered electric fence, thanks to the cooperation of the British Rhino Rescue Trust.

The different measures are directed to protect an exceptionally important area for wildlife conservation, not only birdlife diversity which inspired the park creation but also a great lot of mammal species, native or introduced, which live and breed successfully in the park. Among the latter are rhinos. The park was declared a sanctuary for the protection of these voluminous and endangered animals in 1987. From then on, re-introduction of specimens of both species, black and white, has made Nakuru become one of the main rhino refuges in Kenya and the place where the visitor can easily find two of the five rhino species surviving in the world.

The park covers the lake and a land strip around the northern, eastern and western shores, whereas southward the grounds extend farther to Makalia Falls, which define the south limit. The shores are surrounded by swamps, that during the driest seasons disappear to give rise to huge white salt crusts. The riverine forest opens up southward in a bush and acacia tree savannah. The eastern and western shores are framed by ridges that offer splendid lookouts over the lake: Lion Hill, Baboon Cliff and Out of Africa. At the west shore, Baboon Cliffs are the preferred habitat for some of the park's species, while at east, a part of Lion Hill is covered by a magnificent Euphorbia or candle tree forest, giving the landscape a prehistoric look. The park hosts several picnic areas and some hides have been erected nearby the lake for bird observation.

In addition to birds and rhinos, the park is home for a large number of mammals.The short distance to the city and the frequent conflicts between environment conservation and development of the local communities have prompted a number of projects aiming at improving life conditions in the area and providing the residents a chance to meet this unique wildlife refuge. On the other hand, the park owns a bus which offers low-priced guided tours to the park for Nakuru residents.

Places to visit in Tanzania

1

Ruaha National Park

2

Selous Game Reserve

3

Pemba Island

4

Tarangire National Park

5

Mountain Kilimanjaro

Places to Visit in Uganda

1

Bwindi Impenetrable Park

2

Queen Elizabeth National Park

3

Murchison Falls National Park

4

Lake Mburo National Park

5

Kidepo Valley National Park

Places to Visit in Kenya

1

Masai mara,

2

Amboseli

3

Lake Nakuru

4

Lake Naivasha

5

Tsavo East Tsavo

Places to Visit in Rwanda

1

Nyungwe-Canopy Walk

2

Akagera National Park

3

Lake Kivu

4

Volcanoes National Park

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Thursday, 18 January 2018 17:46

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