Having traveled about 500 Kms from Addis Ababa to South East of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State, someone will be speechless seeing vast greenish area encircled by ever green mountains, dense forests, plains and well known wide water bodies. Among this water bodies that welcomed travelers to the nearest city Arba Minch is Lake Abaya, which is the second largest of Ethiopia's lakes and the first from rift valley lakes.
Its water is reddish brown due to the iron filled sedimentations of the tributary rivers especially of the Halaba River, according to experts. Very few fishermen boats are seen on the parts of the lake. Especially the southern parts wetland of the lake from the entry side is constituted by vast farming activities. Abaya has 60 Km length and 20 KM width with average depth of 13 meters. It covers about 1,152KM2.
In early periods, Abaya is well known mainly for its fish resources and now also with very dangerous crocodile species, hippopotamus, ducks and bird species. But ,now the area residents are talking about the declining in fish numbers . Nearly 60 KM2 parts of the lake is found in Nech Sar National Park. Currently the lake's crocodiles and other aquatic natures have made it one of the tourist attraction potential of the country.
However, the alarming expansion of water hyacinth weeds on its wetland and edge parts are now endangering this astonishing lake. The weed is observable covering kilometers distance into the lake body. According to Shimels Zenebe, Administrator of the Nech Sar National Park, the area coverage of water hyacinth on Lake Abaya only during the year 2017 had reached about 47 KM2 .
He also noted that the weed was seen on the lake for the first time in 2015, but because of paying less attention to the case ,it has been expanding slowly to this stage.
For his part, Gamo Gofa Zone Administration, Culture and Tourism Bureau Communication Director Kambo Dero said: "Now, due attention is given to the issue and the zone administration is working on eradicating the weed with all pertinent bodies like Arba Minch University and other Research and Education institutions.
"Professionally speaking we won't face the same danger like Tana Lake and now almost the situation is under control," Shimels said adding : "Weeds like Water hyacinth attacks less likely rift valley lakes such as Abaya, because of their saline nature, however if due attention is not paid, the plant can develop itself adapting all the features of the lake and the environment." He,therefore , urged the concerned bodies to exert extra efforts in controlling the weed.Moreover he stressed that currently theactivties are being undergone involving the area dwellers to uproot the weed using hands . However, he said controlling this weed on Lake Abaya is not easy as Lake Tana, because of their differences on aquatic animals.
If the water hyacinth could penetrate into the major parts of Lake Abaya, it is difficult to remove it mobilizing the public. This is because of the presence of aggressive crocodiles in the lake,he added.
According to the Culture and Tourism Bureau, Arba Minch University has already assigned two of its PhD researchers to make their theses on the issue and Arba Minch Poly Technical College has also innovated new boat that can help to dismantle the weed.
Nevertheless ,Shimels underlined the need for putting utmost efforts in reducing the danger of the weeds on the lake and its aquatic animals . In addition to this, he noted that the sediment filling the lake from feeding rivers, which has huge content of irons are also hurting fishes hindering green plants to develop which in turn they are special foods of fishes. It is as this result that the lake's fish is almost becoming vanishing resource.