Lake Naivasha, Kenya: A Paradise for Winged Beauties

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.



Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives



By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira
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Comment on this article

  • Anant, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 12 2018

    Beautiful photos.
    Had been to Serengeti once. The worst tourists were Americans and Indians.

    We Indians, really need to learn to shut our loud mouth.

  • Anita Britto, Mangalore/Auckland

    Mon, Jul 09 2018

    Another exceptional gem with the ethos of Nature brilliantly captured through an artistic lens and exceptional patience, well-rewarded.
    Particularly interesting was the connection of beak adaptations with response to Evolution.
    Interesting to read about the foraging behaviour of birds and how they choose their source of food from different heights of a tree.
    Goes to show how the avian brain is blessed in its genetic make-up to share with other species.
    Your amazing articles never fail to reawaken the sense of wonder and hopefully this will make me more observant while I attempt to take a bird’s eye-view and follow birds moving from perch to perch in search of their preferential niche.

  • Payal Ruth, Mumbai

    Mon, Jul 09 2018

    In today's world, we need to understand and scientifically take care of the Earth's biodiversity. This article throws valuable light on the innovative governance initiatives with potential contributions to the future sustainability of the lake ecosystem. Also many of the birds from Lake Naivasha are winter visitors to India. Hence it is important that we have a global partnership in safeguarding wildlife.

  • Nihal Joseph, Manipal

    Mon, Jul 09 2018

    As a Engineering student , it was fascinating to understand two important aspects of Lake Naivasha and how this model of sustainable tourism and wildlife management can be replicated in India.
    Yet another important aspect that can be looked into the future is the way, we could use computer engineering in simulating a particular wildlife sanctuary and design its carrying capacity in terms of Tourism and wildlife numbers. Should you need any help, we can ably assist you.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel, Mangalore

    Mon, Jul 09 2018

    Exceeds the usual high standard of the authors and photographer, including the crisp commentary. Keep up the good work. Thanks and good luck.

  • Allen, Brisbane

    Sun, Jul 08 2018

    Dear Dr Anand & Ashley.

    Great article & well articulated,The pictures are stunning ,The contents are brief & self explanatory.

    The opportunity of this great mile stone task coming into reality is a wish in life for nature lovers.

    The anticipation of co ordination to fulfill a magnanimous project has baught in life to the audience.

    In this case appreciation is a must that will automatically generate the nature lovers to participate more often in such eco friendly operation .

    The benefit of this tour is to get a foot print & understanding of a practical number, ,it seems to be improving.

    On the whole a great way to demonstrate a nature friendly trip.

    Good Job & well done.

    Kind Regards.

    Allen Pais

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