Millions of pink flamingos

Millions of pink flamingos

Categories: Africa | Animals | Nature

Lake Nakuru National Park is located in Kenya, 160 km northwest of Nairobi. "Nakuru "means"dusty place" in the Maasai language. In fact, the place is quite swampy, and the lake is shallow and salty. But sometimes its murky surface is covered with a swaying pink blanket, and the air above it begins to tremble with the noise of birds.

Millions of pink flamingos

Millions of flamingos can be seen on Nakuru alone. This is why photographers from all over the world come here.

Millions of pink flamingos

The lands of East Africa, where the zone of deep faults passes, are famous for their lakes, each of which preserves a virgin, unlike anything else, natural world. Among them is Kenya's Lake Nakuru. 

Millions of pink flamingos

Once on this place there was a huge fresh water reservoir. About ten thousand years ago, the climate became drier, the reservoir became shallow and broke up into three small lakes: Elmenteita, Naivasha and Nakuru, 60 km away from them. Over time, hot volcanic springs saturated Lake Nakuru with soda, and its waters became quite acrid.

Millions of pink flamingos

Soda lakes are not the most favorable place to live. Usually they are inhabited only by invertebrates and blue-green algae. But it is precisely such shallow waters that attract flamingos. Lake Nakuru is a gathering place for small flamingos. There are more of them here than anywhere else on Earth-millions of them. Landing and taking off near the shoreline, the myriad creatures form an ever-changing pattern of different shades of pink.

Millions of pink flamingos

Flamingos feed with their heads hanging down and moving them from side to side, like water passing through a curved beak specially adapted for collecting algae. Their beak and tongue edges are equipped with small horn plates that trap planktonic algae, small crustaceans and other invertebrates. 

Millions of pink flamingos

Flamingo chicks hatch sighted. They are covered with thick short brownish down, and their beak is straight and begins to round off only after two weeks. While the babies can not filter the water themselves, the parents feed them a kind of" bird's milk " — regurgitated semi-digested food along with secretions of the walls of the esophagus and stomach. 

Millions of pink flamingos

Young flamingos remain dirty-white for a long time and turn pink only in the third year of life. The characteristic red or pink color of their plumage gives a special pigment from the shells of small crustaceans. With food, it enters the body of the bird, and then into the plumage. If the food supply is depleted or the "flowering" of the water ends (and it ends spontaneously, as it begins), the flamingos are removed from their place and fly to another lake.

Millions of pink flamingos

Millions of pink flamingos

These long-legged, graceful birds are among the most beautiful in the world. It is no wonder that Lake Nakuru attracted many ornithologists and just nature lovers. To preserve the pristine nature of the place, Nakuru was declared a protected area in 1957, and in 1960 its southern coast became a bird sanctuary for small flamingos. A year later, the reservoir acquired the status of a national park in Kenya, and by that time the list of waterfowl there was no longer limited to flamingos. 

Millions of pink flamingos

Earlier, back in 1952, a salt-tolerant tilapia fish of the cichlid family was introduced to the fishless Nakuru from Lake Magadi. It took root, and was followed by fish-eating birds, including the great white pelican and cormorant. Now the lake and its shores are home to about 70 species of birds, whose life is connected with the water. Every year, the park is visited by migratory birds from Eurasia, which winter on the lake or rest on the way to the south.

Millions of pink flamingos

But the main local attraction remains flamingos. However, what is an object of admiration for people, for predatory eagles-screamers-prey. They hunt flamingos and marabou-scavenger birds. They kill the victim with their beaks-daggers. The beak of a marabou pierces the skin of a dead buffalo, and even more so the back of a small flamingo.

Millions of pink flamingos

By the 1970s, the area of the park was expanded thanks to the World Wildlife Fund, which raised half a million dollars for the purchase of land. Even the children sent money. Now the park includes grass pastures, thickets of shrubs, acacia forests and mountains overgrown with milkweed. 

Millions of pink flamingos

Everywhere, the usual life for Africa is in full swing. Rothschild's giraffes nibble at the treetops, herds of ungulates roam, they are looked after by predators, lions and leopards, and scavengers roam for predators. There are giant pythons in the forest. Sometimes they crawl across the road in front of admiring tourists or hang picturesquely from the branches.

Millions of pink flamingos

In 1983, the park became a rhino sanctuary. The territory intended for them had to be fenced off from poachers. Nakuru is now home to 45 black rhinos and 31 white rhinos. The whites were resettled from South Africa. Let's discover the secret of their "whiteness": in fact, they are almost the same color as black — gray-brown. And they were called white because someone once confused the English word "white" ("white") with" weide "— in Afrikaans"large".

Millions of pink flamingos

The white rhinoceros is not small, its body length reaches 5 meters, its height is 2 meters, and its weight is 3,600 kilograms. Black-smaller, weighs only a ton and a half, but he has up to five horns, and it is the horns that attract poachers.

Millions of pink flamingos

Outside the park are small farms and coffee plantations that grow the famous Kenyan Arabica, recognized by tasters around the world.

Millions of pink flamingos

However, today this idyll is in danger. Soda lakes are sensitive to climate changes, so the water level in Nakuru is very variable, several times it almost completely dried up. In 1971-1973, the lake suffered another shallowing. Its depth at that time did not exceed 10 centimeters. This cataclysm affected the species composition of blue-green algae. 

Millions of pink flamingos

Spirulina and arthrospira have been replaced by microcystis and anabens, and these algae produce poisons. Since 1974, fish and flamingos have been dying from poisoning by toxins and heavy metals that enter the body along with algae. In millions of packs, there were huge losses. So, in 1993, twenty thousand small flamingos died in Nakuru and the neighboring Lake Bogoria. Over two decades, their population has declined by 20%. If the situation does not change, then in a hundred years there will be no birds left here.

Millions of pink flamingos

The situation is aggravated by water pollution, in which poisonous algae multiply rapidly, and there is no shortage of pollutants. Over the past 30 years, the Lake Nakuru basin has begun to be intensively populated. About a million people live around the National Park, a third of them in the rapidly growing city of Nakuru. The city is located just a kilometer from the lake, and its domestic and industrial wastewater flows directly into Nakuru. Especially the water suffers during the rainy season. Numerous tourists also contribute their share of dirt.

Millions of pink flamingos

Conservationists are doing everything possible to preserve the reserve. Experts are constantly monitoring its ecology and looking for a way to stop the rapid flowering of water. They teach the locals rational ways of farming, reasonable and careful attitude to the land and wildlife in the hope that its beautiful island-Lake Nakuru - will not sink into the sea of civilization.

Keywords: Animals | Nature | Africa | Birds | Nature reserve | Lake | Flamingo | National park

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