number of years ago, Lakes Kamnarok and Ol bollosat in Kenya were vivacious
water bodies that supported and shaped the ecosystems around them.
recently they are shells of their former selves, due to heavy siltation caused
by human activities.
is still happening, the lake is drying up and this is threatening Lake Kamnarok
and the wildlife with extinction, besides affecting the lives of people around
it," Elijah Chemitei, senior warden in Baringo county, says. "Much of
it is caused by upstream activities like tree-felling and charcoal-burning,
agricultural activities, grazing and sand collection." He added.
Kamnarok, in the arid county of Baringo in Kenya’s North Rift Valley Province,
is the only oxbow lake (a crescent-shaped lake that is formed when a meander of
a river is cut off from the main channel) in the country. It used to have the
second-largest population of crocodiles in Africa, after Lake Chad.
crocodiles at the lake used to be over 30,000 in population; they are now less
than 5,000 after many died while others prefer Kerio River that formed the
lake. Wild animals at Rimoi game reserve next to the lake are endangered and
tourism in general is in jeopardy,” says Chemitai.
the other hand, Lake Ol Bollosat is the only lake in Central Province and one
of the few highland lakes in the world.
has seen human encroachment, including by post-election violence victims who
settled on land near the lake. The destruction of the nearby Aberdare forest
has caused the drying up of rivers that run from the forest into Lake Ol
says that Lake Kamnarok had decreased in size from 10 square kilometres to two
square kilometre. He says people are felling trees, burn charcoal and do
agriculture in the nearby indigenous forests and when rains fall; they wash
away soils down into the lake.
noted that the number of tourists visiting Rimoi game reserve that neighbours
Lake Kamnarok in Baringo County had reduced due to reduced wild animals which
are the main attractions , the few remaining wild animals retreat to a far
distance with cows taking over the grazing fields.
animals found around the lake are impalas, bushbucks, warthogs, leopards,
buffaloes and an endangered mammal called funkleen.
is another challenge to the wild animals at Kamnarok a practice that has
claimed many wild animals.
enter into the reserve to hunt, last year we lost many animals to poachers and
we are disadvantaged because we lack enough game rangers”, says Chemitai.
said County Council of Baringo (the local authority mandated to control human
settlement) was partly to blame for being reluctant in preventing people from
intruding into the riparian land.
are asking people who have encroached into the lake to move out, the county
council of Baringo has failed to control settlement and prevent illegal
occupation , they establish settlements in the riparian land,” Chemitai
Lagat, an environmental conservationist said human activities had opened up
slopes causing floods that normally wash soils into the lake.
noted that rivers Ketipborok, Cheplogoi, Oiwo and Chelabei that flow into Lake
Kamnarok had either dried up completely or become seasonal following
destruction of their sources.
lake had plenty of water sometime back, urgent measures like reforesting the
forests with indigenous trees, sensitizing people to protect the lake and to
move out of the land near the lake should be taken,” said Lagat the head of
Esageri Sabatia Environmental Organization (Esaco), an NGO that carries out
tree planting exercise in deforested catchments.
says Lake Ol Bollosat in Central Province also suffered similar fate of
destruction of catchment areas and encroachment.
Ol Bollosat, used to be known as the home of hippopotamus, has up to 200
species of birds and is the source of water that feeds Thompsons falls, the
falls is an important tourist attraction and source of revenue in Nyahururu
Township, 250 kilometres northeast of Nairobi city.
lake has reduced in size from 5,000-10,000 hectares to less than 3, 000
hectares currently in less than three years, consequently hundreds if not thousands
of birds have shifted to other lakes or died, hippos have continued to die with
tourists opting to go to other places,” Lagat noted
said that despite the governments order that people who had encroached into
Aberdare forest where several rivers flow from and end into Lake Ol Bollosat be
moved, no steps had been taken one year later.
group of 250 families affected by post election violence of 2008 bought a land
at the shores of the lake where they settled.
year, the government through Environmental Ministry headed by Minister John
Michuki introduced a policy that directed cutting down of eucalyptus trees at
wetlands and along river banks.
trees were blamed for their uptake of huge amounts of water hence causing
drying of rivers and wetlands.
people have however continued to grow these trees to the detriment of rivers
and important catchment areas,” Lagat stated.
Kiplagat, a resident in Baringo noted that encroachment of human beings into
lake reserves where people were building houses on lake reserves, cutting down
trees and carrying out farming activities in there, had caused conflict between
people and animals where wild animals were killing domestic animals.
“This is happening at Kerio Valley where Kerio River passes through, crocodiles that have moved out of the river have killed many goats as they drink water,” he says.
Kerio Valley, Lake Kamnarok and Rimoi game reserve are great tourist attractions and William Kimosop a game warden at Baringo says that Kenya Wildlife Service was working extra hard to protect the resources and open up the region to tourism.
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