June 8, 2018
Kenya is undisputedly, one of the world’s outstanding wildlife destinations! Its parks, reserves and private conservancies, with varied and high density wildlife populations, makes it an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts to come and photograph up close the last remaining diverse populations of wildlife on the planet. However, very few travellers or wildlife enthusiasts are aware that Kenya is a birdwatcher`s paradise too. Teeming with birdlife, Ideal Climate, with varied topography, habitats, ranging from dry to aquatic and a supporting cast of the big game for which it is famous. Over 1100 bird species have been recorded in the country, and it is possible to see well over a half of these without undue effort during the boat ride.
The most renowned habitat for birds in Kenya is the rift valley ridge that stretches from north to western Kenya. The crater lakes of Lake Nakuru, Lake Baringo, Lake Elementaita and Lake Naivasha are some of the most impressive birding sites that offer a spectacular array of both migratory and resident birds which can be seen at close quarters.
A total of more than 450 birds can be spotted here on any day. Much of the lake is surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea - the yellow fever tree.
Giraffes wander among the acacia, Buffalo wallow in the swamps and Colobus monkeys call from the treetops while the Lakes large hippo population sleep the day out in the shallows.
Lake Naivasha and the surrounding land was originally owned by the Masai tribe; and in fact the actually name of Naivasha is derived from the Masai word for 'rough waters'.
In this article we wish to highlight the many different species of wildlife and bird species in and around Lake Naivasha. Kenya's second largest freshwater lake, Lake Naivasha, is the most productive of all of the Great Rift Valley lakes and at a size of 139 km², the Lake is a vital life source for birds as well as well as other wildlife. It is situated at an altitude of 1,884 metres (6,180 ft).The lake has an average depth of 6 m (20 ft), with the deepest area being at Crescent Island, at a maximum depth of 30 m (100 ft).
We visited Lake Naivasha, a couple of months back, to have a glimpse of both the wildlife as well as the bird life in this unique ecosystem.
Lake Naivasha is home to a wide variety of birds in different shapes, sizes, colors, habits and instincts. Each species is present in select numbers and occupy almost every conceivable niche.
Bird Evolution and Beak Adaptations
Lake Naivasha is perhaps the best places on earth to understand bird evolution in terms of beak adaptations.
Evolution has also programmed the avian brain to respond to sudden and crucial changes in the weather patterns. By way of shaping different sizes of beaks which are useful in capturing various insects, animals and fish. Some birds are gifted with unusually long legs and necks, and others have beaks with a variety of shapes-spoon like, spear like, dagger like, etc.
Various bird species have evolved specialized techniques and beaks to cater to their enormous feeding demands. Many species share the same feeding grounds without getting in each other’s ways. At times the source of food may be a particular tree where in some species favor the top of the tree, others closer to the bottom and some others search for food inside the barks. Some birds simply stamp the ground with their feet to scare up food.
Key Bird Species
Popular Species: Great White Pelican, Saddle-billed Stork, Goliath Heron, Giant Kingfisher,Cape Teal, Pied Avocet, Black Heron, Goliath Heron, Maccoa Duck, Great White Pelican.
Sustainable tourism and a globally-recognized model of wildlife management means that you see pristine wilderness and internationally-significant habitats where wildlife roam freely, including rare and endangered species. We realized that Kenya has an extensive bird list and an increasing eco-tourism industry geared to birders… not least as it holds some remarkable birding sights… such as the rift valley lakes. However, the lesson we take home is that the Government has spared no effort is maintaining the ecological integrity of the lake. It became internationally-renowned in 1999 as one of the first wetland sites worldwide to be nominated by the Government for Ramsar status as a result of local action, guided by the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association (LNRA). These factors have culminated in the recent emergence of innovative governance arrangements with potential contributions to the future sustainability of the lake ecosystem. If only, we could adopt best practices in managing our water resources without polluting them with sewage, we could also invite birders from across the globe to India and earn precious foreign exchange as well as provide livelihood to many marginal sections of society through tourism benefits.
These wildlife pictures of Lake Naivasha are clicked by Ashley Rasquinha, Joint Managing Director, Electropneumatics and Hydraulics (I) Pvt Ltd, Pune. Ashley is a naturalist and brings out a calendar on wildlife each year to help people understand the value of wildlife conservation.
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