Tanzania to protect Lake Natron flamingos
Plans for a soda ash mine at a lake used as a breeding ground by over two million flamingos have been dropped
Africa overland trips are all about the magnificent wildlife that can be seen throughout the continent, and nowhere is this more evident than in Tanzania.
The country is home to the famous Serengeti, where visitors can spot big game including lions, elephants, giraffes and zebras.
But one of the most amazing wildlife sights in Tanzania can be found at Lake Natron, which is used by over two million lesser flamingos as a breeding ground.
The high salt content of the lake makes it a great place for the flamingos to build their nests away from predators.
However, as it acts as the only breeding ground used by the species, the lesser flamingo is dependent on the lake for its survival.
Wildlife lovers were therefore understandably concerned when the Tanzanian government proposed to establish a soda ash plant at Lake Natron.
The plant would pump water from the lake and extract the sodium carbonate to convert to washing powder for export, threatening to disrupt the balance of the entire eco system.
But it has now been announced that the government has abandoned plans to build the plant and instead has pledged to invest in protecting the flamingos and the local environment.
The decision came after a cost-benefit analysis of the project revealed that tourism resulting from the lake and its wildlife is more valuable to the country than a soda ash mine would be.
The report said local communities stand to gain almost £1 billion over 50 years if investments are made in tourism, local livelihoods and environmental protection, instead of mining.
Tanzania's permanent secretary of natural resources said: "The value of the pride that we have as a country; the cultural sense and self-worth of the Maasai; the breathtaking sceneries of the Rift Valley and the debt to future generations cannot be monetised and may never be known. Therefore, if we lose Lake Natron, we may never truly know what we will have lost."