Arusha — TANZANIA will, this year, experience the most significant breeding of flamingos in more than five years, according to scientists.
Up to one million flamingos migrate to Lake Natron in the Enkaresero Ward of Ngorongoro District in Arusha region where they lay their eggs each year.
"If this year's breeding is successful it will be a good boost for the flamingo population. But with so many hurdles to overcome we will have to wait and hope for good conditions," said Dr Sarah Ward from the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), who is currently studying the pink birds.
"Large breeding events involving over one million lesser flamingos are not unusual if conditions at Lake Natron are suitable and if the flamingos are in good health," explained Ms Ward. Dr Ward is a PhD research student studying the relationship between East African lakes and lesser flamingo populations at the university's Institute of Complex Systems Simulation (ICSS) and geography departments.
Lake Natron is, however, not gazetted yet as an official tourism site and recently it became an epicentre of controversy due to the proposed soda-ash extracting factory planned for its Longido shores. It is estimated that more than three-quarters of the world population of lesser flamingos lives in East Africa and uses the Northern-Tanzania's shallow lake as its nesting site.
It is estimated that more than 2.5 million lesser flamingos are currently living in Eastern Africa, from Djibouti down through Tanzania to Malawi. All of them were hatched at Lake Natron. The lake has islands where the birds raise their young away from predators like hyenas but if the water level is too low the birds usually abandon their nests. Lesser flamingos are the smallest, but most common, species of flamingo.
The birds fly in huge migratory groups from other parts of the African continent to Lake Natron. Dry weather caused drought in recent years which meant the birds did not have very successful breeding seasons but with ongoing rains, this year, conditions look better.
On the other hand, the other flamingo habitat -- Lake Manyara -- which lies within the National Park of the same name, is back to its usual form following recent rains that have rescued the water body which was reported diminishing two months ago.