19 July 2006

Kenya: Lake Nakuru Hit By New Flamingo Deaths

Nairobi — Mass death of flamingos has been reported in Lake Nakuru National Park.

But the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Tuesday ruled a bird flu outbreak as the cause of the deaths, which have occurred in the last two weeks.

KWS personnel have collected at least two truckloads of the dead migratory birds, which are the main tourist attraction at the lake. Senior KWS warden, Charles Muthui, said officials from the regional veterinary office and the wildlife organisation researchers had collected samples for testing.

He ruled out bird flu, adding that lack of fresh water was the possible cause of the deaths.

"The streams and rivers flowing into the lake have dried up due to destruction of Mau Forest, which is the main water catchment for the lake," he said.

Njoro, Makalia and Nderit rivers, which flow into the lake, have dried up. The shores of the shrinking lake are littered with stinking flamingo carcasses, which have put off tourists. Three months ago, hundreds of flamingos died, causing fears of an avian flu outbreak. KWS researchers and district veterinary officers tested 40 samples for the deadly disease.

Muthui said the park management had not received the test results and was forced to send more samples after the latest wave of deaths.

"We collected about 200 dead birds in the first week, and the numbers have increased," he said.

The park management committee has begun a re-afforestation campaign to encourage families allocated land in the forest to start planting trees.

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