This past weekend I spent three days with some of my old colleagues and friends from the Ornithology Dept of the National Museums of Kenya – only its now called the Ornithology Section apparently. Kuria, Njoro, Chege, Malaki, Agatha, Musina and myself headed for Elsamere Field Study Centre on the shores of the lake and were there from Friday to Monday working on revising the notes and structure of the Fundamentals of Ornithology course that I’ve been teaching at Elsamere every April since 1996. After almost 15 years, we felt it was high time to update the notes and revise the course!
teaching on the Fundamentals of Ornithology course, Elsamere
Njoro helping with the ringing at the 2009 FoO course
It was an excellent time going through the notes and improving / re-writing / adding / deleting parts of the notes and we really managed to achieve something worthwhile through it – despite the serious distraction of the Dubai Rugby Sevens going on all day Saturday when Kenya almost beat the worlds best teams of New Zealand and South Africa!!
It was shocking, however, to see the condition of the lake – it has dropped to level like I have never seen it and apparently it hasn’t been like since before the 1940s possibly earlier. On the north and eastern side, the water has receded by about 3 kilometres and Douglas Tchagara one of the bird guides around the lake who has been fighting for its conservation, reported that they had been measuring the lake receding at 4cm per day!!! Hippos are dying every week as the water has receded so much they get stuck in very deep, soft mud trying to get out to feed; the bird composition on the lake is changing as a reflection of what is happening with there being both Greater and Lesser Flamingo on it for the first time that I can remember.
This spells a real disaster for the lake. Furthermore by this time of the year it is all meant to be green and there should be some off-flow from the escarpments the east and west of it particularly by way of 3 or so underground aquifers. However Elsamere was dry, brown and dusty – no sign of rain and not a lot of hope of any for the rest of the year in terms of anything significant. That lake is really on its way out and the government clearly has no concern whatsoever for it and has done absolutely nothing to mitigate or stop the disaster from happening. The problem is there’s too much money involved through the flower farms and it is said, which all can well believe, that they powerful farms are paying the politicians in order to get their own way…
I need to find out more and post it, but it is definitely a hugely worrying senario and deeply sad to see such a jewel of a place going down the drain…