7 July 2014

Tanzania: Study Paints Gloomy Picture of L. Manyara

Arusha — AN extensive study painted a bleak future for Lake Manyara, which has already suffered loss of its legendary hippopotamus species, shrinking shoreline and contaminated waters.

Dr Asantaeli Melita has just completed the study on the "Impact of Irrigation on Lake Manyara Wetlands" indicating grim future for the popular water body.

Lake Manyara National Park, famous for its tree-climbing lions heavily depend on the Lake whose 75 per cent of waters lie within the conservation area, should it dry then the park will also disappear.

The Arusha and Manyara Regional officials had previously summoned an emergency consultative committee meeting aimed at addressing the issue of Lake Manyara, which was described to be in the verge of totally disappearing because the number of rivers that used to feed it has dropped from 15 to just five and even these have much of their waters diverted by farmers who use them for irrigation.

Many of the 10 rivers previously pumping water into the Lake have dried off; some became seasonal due to effects of climate change, while the remaining five only stream a small fraction of their water into Manyara because much of the liquid get used in farms, hotels and residential areas.

During the Extra-Ordinary RCC meeting of last year, the Ecologist with Lake Manyara National Park, Ms Yustina Kiwago revealed that, the five rivers that currently channel water into the lake, pass through rice paddies and other commercial farms, while high-class tourist hotels draw water from them as residential houses also rely on same for domestic use leaving just a small percentage to eventually trickle into the Lake.

She added that the little water also ends up into the lake already filled with all debris, soil and other impurities en-route and this have caused the depth to decrease at alarming rate.

"Two thirds of Lake Manyara lies within the corresponding National Park which also inherited the water body's name and the park is highly dependent on the lake which sustains varieties of wildlife especially large mammals such as elephants and hippos as well as water birds in this case flamingos," stated Ms Kiwango.

But even now more and more human activities as well as settlements continue to close into Lake Manyara, causing the water body to keep shrinking and getting shallower with experts warning that soon it will disappear and its extinction will remove one National park from the country's current 16.

The original depth of Lake Manyara used to be 12 meters deep but this has now become ten-times shallower down to just 1.5 meter as of current measurement and as it seems the water body continue to get shallow with ongoing siltation threats.

Travel and economic scholars have also discovered in recent studies that 'One Square Acre' of conserved land in Lake Manyara yielded more economic benefit to the country than 'One-square-acre' of commercial farming growing rice or sisal.

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