Salt ash development threatens entire East African Lesser Flamingo population

This video says about itself:

A compilation of the breeding of the lesser flamingo during the 2008/09 breeding season at Kamfers Dam, Kimberley, South Africa.

From BirdLife:

Salt ash development threatens entire East African Lesser Flamingo population


A proposed development near Tanzania’s border with Kenya, threatens the survival of the entire East African population of Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor.

Lake Natron -the only East African site in which Lesser Flamingo has bred in the past 45 years– currently faces an uncertain future due to a proposed Soda Ash extraction and processing plant.

Lake Natron is recognised internationally as a Ramsar site, and as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. …

Over 75% of the species’ global population occurs in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. There appears to be very little interchange between this large sub-population and other smaller Lesser Flamingo regional populations.The East African sub-population has bred only on Lake Natron for the past 45 years, effectively making Lake Natron the only breeding site for over 75% of the global population.

See also here.

East Africa wildlife photos: here.

2 thoughts on “Salt ash development threatens entire East African Lesser Flamingo population

  1. Tanzania: Soda-Ash Project Could Endanger Flamingoes

    East African (Nairobi)

    24 July 2007
    Posted to the web 24 July 2007

    Paul Redfern

    CONSERVATIONISTS ARE gearing up for a fight with the large Indian industrial corporation, Tata Chemicals, over its plans to establish a soda-ash plant on the shores of Lake Natron in northern Tanzania.

    Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Africa (RSPBA) officer Chris Magin has described the plans as “bonkers” and warned they could drive one of the world’s rarest birds – the lesser flamingo – to extinction.

    Tata is at the forefront of India’s economic push in Africa and already runs a number of businesses across the East African region including a coffee processing plant in Uganda, a vehicle assembly plant in Kenya and the Magadi Soda Factory on Lake Magadi, around 40km north of Lake Natron.

    This plant, which was bought from Brunner Mond in 2005, already produces some three million tonnes of soda ash annually.

    Tata says that Lake Natron is one of the world’s few natural sources of soda ash whereas in most places it is produced chemically. The company also says it has commissioned a consulting firm to conduct an environmental and social assessment study at Lake Natron which was made available for consultation last week.

    Last week, the company held a public workshop in Tanzania to address the issue but critics point out that some environmental organisations were prevented from attending. The RSPB say only part of the impact report will be made public before it goes to the Tanzanian government for approval.

    THE COMPANY PLANS TO EXtract around 500,000 tonnes of soda ash or sodium carbonate annually and will build a coal-fired power station as well as facilities for 1,200 workers at the site.

    “The chances of lesser flamingos continuing to breed at Lake Natron in the face of such mayhem are next to zero,” Dr Magin told the UK-based Guardian newspaper.

    Lake Natron has been the only breeding site for lesser flamingos in Africa for 45 years. Each summer 500,000 flamingos fly to the lake to nest, a phenomenon that attracts tourists from all over the world.

    “We are not against development but companies and governments need to look at all the options before a project of this sort goes ahead,” Dr Magin said. “If not, the damage maybe irreversible.”

    However, Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Lowassa said his government will go ahead with the project.

    An angry Mr Lowassa recently told Parliament, “There have been comments heard on the British Broadcasting Corporation concerning Lake Natron, which is near the border of Tanzania and Kenya. On the Kenyan side, they have a soda ash plant on Lake Magadi, but when Tanzania starts discussing the construction of a similar plant, we are told we will destroy the environment.”

    Drawing parallels with what is happening in the Masaai Mara, Mr Lowassa said last year Kenya collected $750 million as tourism revenue from the national park, while Tanzania only managed $30 million from the Serengeti National Park.

    He said Kenya had built 340 hotels with 4,700 rooms in the 3,000 square kilometres Maasai Mara, a much more smaller area than the 16,000 square kilometres Serengeti, despite the fact that the migrating wildebeest stay for only two months on the Kenyan side and spend the rest of the year in Tanzania.

    “Now we are being told not to build hotels in the Serengeti. I would like to tell our detractors that we are going ahead with construction,” said Mr Lowassa.

    He said the government had reviewed the general management plan of the Serengeti National Park and had decided to build more five-star hotels “in order to reach 4,500 beds by 2012. All areas where these hotels will be built will seriously take the environment into consideration.”

    Last November, it was reported that Tanzania would start commercial extraction of soda ash at Lake Natron, with a Dar es Salaam-based consulting firm Noconsult already contracted by Tata to undertake an environmental impact assessment on behalf of Lake Natron Resources Ltd.

    The proposed development will include soda ash extraction and processing plant and associated infrastructure at Lake Natron. Major activities to be undertaken at the facility include extraction of brine, removal of soda ash from the brine and transportation of the product to the market.

    THE POTENTIAL POSITIVE socio-economic impacts of the project have been listed as increased business and employment opportunities, community development initiatives and significant economic benefit to the national economy of Tanzania.

    However, those opposed to the project have cited potential adverse impacts as largely associated with the conservation status of Lake Natron, which has been a Ramsar site since 2001.

    The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international co-operation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

    In view of the fact that Lake Natron is a Ramsar site, negative impacts cited include damage to the lake’s ecosystem and changes to the ecology of rare and endangered species, including flamingos; disruption of wildlife corridors and increased road kill, changes to ground and surface water resources and possible pollution of air, water and soils from industrial waste.

    Additional reporting by Joseph Mwamunyange


  2. Pingback: African Lake Natron salt ash plans, anti-flamingos | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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