Our final stop on the way to Nairobi and home was Lake Nakuru. This is the third time I’ve been and this time we persuaded Andrew to go early (normally we set off at 9 or 10 but the animals tend to start slowing down mid morning).
It was quite a shock this time. The lake was raised somewhat in 2012 when we visited it but it was so much worse this time. The water had nearly reached the main gate and you couldn’t go in that way due to t e flooding. It has been necessary to build a whole series of new roads away from the lake as it continues to rise. Indeed even some of these are in real danger of flooding and they are making new roads even further away. On one road we came across a land cruiser stuck in a flooded part.
The reason for the flooding is that Lake Nakuru only has water entering it and the only way it leaves is through evaporation and the rains in the past two years have been heavier than normal (indeed august rains have compounded it by being heavy). The two pictures here show what it was like in 2011 and this August
The consequences are not only bad for the roads in Nakuru but also the birdlife at Nakuru. Normally over a million flamingos are on lake nakuru with many other birds such as pelicans. This time we saw many fewer water birds there which was very sad. It has also had an impact on tourism (a major source of local income) as Lake Nakuru is especially known for its birdlife. So, when we went around the lake on Thursday it was far less crowded than our guide thought was normal.
Our guide, David, was great – he was a Masai and told us of his time spent in the bush when he was 18 and how he and the others in the group survived there. He was able to hep us to find many animals on our safari and it was good to see that the animals are there and appear unaffected by the flooding. Indeed it was great to see so many great animals there – and we saw lions!! Finally!! As well as lions we saw black and white rhino, giraffes, gazelle, antelope, oryx, zebras and another first – an ostrich!
We also saw a lot of the park rangers this time. What is really cool about them is that they are able to walk through the forests and grassland on foot to ensure that all is well and to deter and counter poachers. They also captured a lion that had escaped the park whilst we were there – and it was amusing to watch them taking pictures of the drugged lion and jumping into their vans as they gave it a serum to wake it up.
The other thing that came into focus was that we visited the elephant sanctuary in Nairobi on Saturday. The rangers at parks like Nakuru try to deter poaching. At the sanctuary in Nairobi the keepers showed us the consequences of poaching. We were showed a number of baby elephants orphaned by poachers. They believe that over 200 elephants are poached each year mainly for their tusks (as are rhinos). A sad state of affairs and not helped by lenient anti-poaching laws (their is a maximum fine of about £500 and six months no matter how much poaching someone has done). They also told us how they eventually release them back into the wild and how some of them come back if they have been hurt for help or to show them their own young – very sweet!
Note: Sorry if you got an email on Sunday am about a post – published a draft by mistake at Nairobi airport and had to delete it.
Usual tip: Click on a picture to see a larger version or to see a carousel of them.