Lake Nakuru’s game park is Kenya’s second most popular because of its short distance from the capital. Black and white rhino, buffalo, lions, giraffe, zebra and antelope all abound – but flamingos steal the show.
Besides being one of the few places where you are guaranteed to see the rare black rhino, this is the only park in Kenya with the severely endangered Rothschild giraffe, which feed daintily from the higher leaves of the acacia trees.
But it is the flamingos and pelicans fishing the shallows that visitors come for, often called “the greatest bird spectacle on earth”. Both the lesser flamingo and greater flamingo feed in the shallows at the lake’s edge, a shimmering rosy mirage puffing off pink clouds as groups of birds take wing. One thing the pictures do not convey is the noise from so many birds feeding in such density.
“It’s a bio-machine,” says Hannes. “Spirulina comes in at one end of the birds and is excreted out the other, adding fertilizer to the lake water which cooks gently in the heat and ultraviolet light here – we are at 2,000 meters. The algae grow so fast that, even with so many flamingo, everything they eat in the morning has been replaced by evening.”
In response, I can’t resist singing “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King which, after he has insulted my singing voice, brings one more observation from Hannes about Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru. “Each is a microcosm of our planet,” he says. “We take life from it and expect nature to cope with all the damage we give back. One day, if we are not careful, we may go too far. We need nature more than nature needs us.”
Although this magical corner of the world is still well worth seeing, it was much more of a paradise just a few decades ago. Let’s hope people are not saying exactly the same thing in another few decades.