Kenya Wildlife Service says Lake Nakuru National Park is still accessible through Lanet and Nderit gates after the main entry was fully submerged in water.
Senior Warden Collins Ochieng says there was a misinterpretation of facts that created the impression that the world-famous bird and wildlife sanctuary had been closed down after Lake Nakuru’s water volumes swelled and destroyed several buildings and roads in the park.
“The number of visitors has increased especially after flamingos started flocking back despite rising water levels,” stated Ochieng.
The Senior Warden was speaking at the KWS offices within the park after holding talks with Government Spokesman Colonel (retired) Cyrus Oguna, County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda and Deputy Governor Dr Eric Korir on the impact of increased water volumes on the Lake’s ecosystem.
The senior warden said Kenya Wildlife Service had spent Ksh 38 million in repairing infrastructure at the park in a bid to improve tourism at the facility.
“We have been constructing new roads and moving offices that had been marooned by lake waters. The management has also reduced entry charges for domestic and international tourists. This is expected to attract more visitors at a time the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
Apart from flamingos and the 450 bird species, Lake Nakuru National Park plays host to four of the big five which includes lions, rhinos, buffaloes and leopards alongside several species of giraffe. It also has other attractive points like the Makalia Falls and the Baboon Cliff.
Oguna observed that Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala in July this year halved entry fees at parks and game reserves for Kenyans in an attempt to attract more local tourists. He noted that the Tourism Ministry has issued a one-year moratorium on rent for hotels operating inside parks and other sites.
“The two initiatives will serve to boost the local hospitality capacities and sustain the tourism industry over the near term. Moreover, the Ksh 537 billion stimulus package announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta contains an allocation of Ksh 3 billion as soft loans to tourist facilities to support renovation works,” noted Oguna
Mbui Mwenda called on the County Government to take drastic measures to curb the plastic bottle menace which is non-biodegradable noting that it was harming animal and aquatic life.
“If this continues unchecked, the lake will eventually be too toxic for the current aquatic life as well as herbivores that often come into contact with non-biodegradable material leading to their deaths,” Mwenda said.
According to KWS, the Lake area has increased by 20 square kilometres within the past ten years and risen from an average of 3 metres to ten meters in depth.
Kenya Wildlife Service researcher Joseph Edebe says areas that were previously grasslands at the game sanctuary have now come underwater. Herbivores which he noted had increased in numbers have moved to higher ground.
“The fish structure has changed from Tilapia grahami that are associated with saline water to freshwater species such as Tilapia Niloticus and Tilapia mossambicus. We also have recorded three other freshwater fish species in this Lake” stated Edebe.