There is no denying that the rise of lakes poses a great risk to the tourism industry, the famous hot springs and jets at Lake Bogoria have subsided, and the number of flamingoes in Lake Nakuru has reduced significantly. This has had a direct impact on the aesthetics of the area and visitors that fancy such attractions. Other rift valley lakes that have experienced rising water level include Naivasha, Elementaita and Baringo.
Water level in the park has been rising since 2011, to levels not seen in the last 50 years. It has remained high even when it isn’t raining making navigating the park almost impossible. Water levels have risen by as much as 2 metres, submerging sections of acacia forest and reducing the salinity of the water, thereby rendering the aquatic habitat unsuitable for flamingos. The lake is now less saline which isn’t conducive for algae as it thrives well in alkaline water. Flamingos have temporarily moved from Lake Nakuru to Lake Bogoria 100 kilomtres away leaving behind just a few hundreds.
Various government agencies have advanced different hypotheses to explain the high rise. The Meteorological department has reported that the rainfall patterns in the rift and its catchment areas are normal while the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has blamed the rise in levels to siltation of the lakes due to degradation of the catchment areas.
However, scientifically, the rise in the water level of the lakes in Rift Valley is due to effects of regional tectonics influenced by the movements of global earth’s plate tectonics.
Lake Nakuru National Park still remains one of the most attractive parks in Kenya despite the reduction of flamingoes. The population of over 450 bird species found in Lake Nakuru has increased tremendously, these includes pelicans, storks and gulls as well numerous species of migratory birds. The previously elusive hippos are now easier to see.
The reduction in grasslands by the rising water levels has made it easier to view the rest of the thriving rich diversity of mammalian population in the park. These include buffalos, baboons, impalas, bushbacks, Waterbucks, Lions, leopards, warthogs, pythons, and white rhinos among others. The landscapes range from sweeping grasslands bordering the lake to rocky cliffs and woodland to the largest euphorbia candelabrum forest in Africa. These tall branching succulents are endemic to the region and provide an interesting textural element to the arid landscapes.
The high water levels mean that much of the plains game has become easier to see. Seasonal rivers including Njoro, Makalia, Nderit, Naishi and Larmudiak have flowed continuously for the last year due to improved hydrology as a result of conservation efforts in the Mau Complex.