Conservation and Management of Flamingo Lakes Programme

Geographical location:

Africa/Madagascar > East Africa > Ethiopia

Africa/Madagascar > East Africa > Kenya


Programme goal

Maintain the ecological integrity of the Flamingo Lakes of Eastern Africa Rift Valley and their catchment basins, while meeting the human needs and aspirations of the peoples of the region.

Programme purpose

The overall objective of this programme is to advance the conservation of the Flamingo Lakes of the Eastern Africa Rift Valley by catalysing participatory and proactive management of wetlands, river catchment basins and the direct involvement of governments, private sector and local communities.


The Flamingo Lakes of the Eastern African Rift Valley form one of the most spectacular scenery of the Great African Rift Valley. Situated in a chain long the bottom of the Eastern Rift Valley they are found in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. They include Lakes Bogoria, Nakuru, Magadi, and Elementaita in Kenya; Manyara, Natron and Eyasi in Tanzania; Abijatta, Shalla and Chitu in Ethiopia. They are of internal drainage, with rivers starting from the highlands that are on either side of the Rift Valley depression. These lakes have no water exit, the only way water leaves is by evaporation, hence concentrating salts that have been leached out of the volcanic soils of the catchment and brought by the rivers that drain into them. Therefore these lakes are hyper saline and very alkaline. The lakes have been isolated geographically for thousands to millions of years, allowing them to develop specialised habitants with unique biodiversity and high levels of endemism. These conditions are very hostile, which limits their biodiversity, only organisms that are well adapted can live in such environment. The Lesser Flamingos are well adapted to live in these conditions and occur in millions in these lakes, hence the name “Flamingo Lakes.”

Flamingo Lakes have relatively fewer genera of fish compared to the fresh water fresh water in the region, for instance Lake Malawi has over 500 species, of which the two thirds are endemic to the lake. Never the less the few fresh water fish species that have been able to occupy these lakes show a high level of physiological adaptation to enable them to occupy highly saline lakes. For example Oreochromis grahami which is endemic to the hot springs of Lakes Magadi and Natron is able to live permanently in water of up to 30o C, and tolerate up to 41o C water for a short period of time.


The program has four objectives under:

1. Research and monitoring (biodiversity, water, quality and quantity, and livelihood security).
2. Policy (local level, national, international). To promote regional synergies among biodiversity-related treaties in the region and ensure WWF catalytic role in regional working relationship.
3. Improved management (both of protected and non-protected sites).
4. Networking and information sharing amongst key stakeholders.

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