Lake Nakuru National Park
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Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park, was established in 1961. It covers an area of 188 square kilometers with Lake Nakuru, a salty water lake, at the centre. It is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos nesting along the shores. It is 160 kilometers west of Nairobi, a two and half hours drive. It is therefore possible to make a day trip from Nairobi. Lake Nakuru together with Amboseli National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve are the most popular wildlife sanctuaries in Kenya
It is a sanctuary to protect Rothschild giraffes, black rhinos and white rhinos. Lake Nakuru National Park has recently been enlarged partly to provide the sanctuary for the black rhino one of the biggest attractions in the big five safari. Lake Nakuru National Park now has more than 25 black rhinoceros, one of the largest concentrations in the country, plus around 70 white rhinos.
There are also a number of Rothschild’s giraffe, again translocated for safety from western Kenya beginning in 1977. Waterbuck are very common. Among the predators are lion and leopard, the latter being seen much more frequently in recent times. The park also has large sized pythons that inhabit the dense woodlands, and can often be seen crossing the roads or dangling from trees.
Vegetation in the park is mainly acacia forest. On the eastern side of the park is the attractive euphorbia forest. Baboon cliffs on the western side of the park give a panoramic view of the whole park. Several mammals have been introduced in Lake Nakuru and have proved to be very successful. Rothschild’s giraffe introduced from Kitale have increased to 60, black rhino from Solio Game Ranch have increased to 70 and white rhinos have increased to 23. To protect rhino from poachers, Lake Nakuru became the first park to be enclosed with an electric fence. Lions have also been introduced to control ever increasing number of waterbucks.
Lake Nakuru National Park is world famous as the location of the greatest bird spectacle on earth – myriads of pink flamingos who number more than a million. They feed on the abundant algae, which thrives in the warm waters. Scientists reckon that the flamingo population at Nakuru consumes about 250,000 kilos of algae per hectare of surface area per year. There are two types of flamingo species: the Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater, which has a bill with a black tip.
The Lesser flamingos are the ones that are commonly pictured in documentaries mainly because they are large in number. The number of Flamingos has been decreasing recently, perhaps due to pollution resulting from industries waterworks nearby who dump waste into the waters or simply because of changes in water quality which makes Lake Nakuru temporarily inhospitable. Usually, the Lake Nakuru recedes during the dry season and floods during the wet season.
But flamingos are not the only attraction in Lake Nakuru National Park, also present are two large fish-eating birds, pelicans and cormorants. The lake is rich in other birdlife with over 400 resident species on the lake and in the surrounding park. Thousands of both little grebes and white winged black terns are frequently seen as are stilts, avocets, ducks, and in the European winter the migrant waders.
Other animals seen in the park: large herds of African buffalo, thousands of Defessa waterbuck, common zebra, Thomson’s and Grant gazelles, reedbuck, bushbuck, lion, baboon, genet, cheetah, black and white colobus monkey, eland, bat-eared fox, leopard, hippo, spotted hyena, black-faced vervet monkey. Lake Nakuru National Park has what it takes for a perfect Kenya Wildlife Safari.