Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kenya tackles climate threats to wildlife, tourism

Isaiah Esipisu in AlertNet: Climate shifts are forcing Kenyan experts to take drastic action to preserve the stunning scenery and wildlife that have drawn millions of tourists to the east African country, bringing vital revenue and providing thousands of jobs.

From collecting rainwater in national parks to providing animals with hay in hard times and preventing alien species of vegetation from taking over grassland, Kenyans have joined regional and global projects to grapple with the changes, which are having deep and rapid effects on the country’s natural resources.

One of the sites most severely affected by recent changes is Lake Nakuru, in the Rift Valley about 140 km (80 miles) northwest of Nairobi. The soda lake is home to millions of flamingos who make a dazzling display as they wheel and swoop in huge flocks before settling on the water to browse on the dense algae.

The flamingos and other water birds make the lake one of the country’s most magnificent spectacles, watched by thousands of tourists from the 14 hotels overlooking the lake and giving jobs to thousands of Kenyans, as well as bringing in more than 3 billion Kenyan shillings ($36 million) a year in revenue.

...But in the past three months, millions of birds have migrated to other places because of pounding rains that have caused the lake to overflow....

Storks and flamingos at Lake Nakuru, shot by Angela Sevin, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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