Long-missed pink flamingos return to Kenya's Lake Nakuru

LAKE NAKURU, Kenya, Sept 3- Eight years ago, rising water levels in Kenya’s Lake Nakuru drove away the clouds of pink coloured flamingos that were the park’s biggest draw. Rangers say their disappearance triggered a drop in visitor numbers by for the Nakuru National Park. She declined to give visitor numbers and the Kenya Wildlife Service did not return calls…

LAKE NAKURU, Kenya, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Eight years ago,

rising water levels in Kenya’s Lake Nakuru drove away the clouds

of pink coloured flamingos that were the park’s biggest draw.

Rangers say their disappearance triggered a drop in visitor

numbers by for the Nakuru National Park.

Now they’re back.

The return has rekindled hopes of a gradual rebound in anarea heavily reliant on tourists for employment and revenues.

On a recent visit, flocks of flamingos foraged for food inthe lake’s turquoise waters, while others flapped in a sine-waveformation above. A rhinoceros grazed nearby.

“With the increase now of the number of flamingos we havestarted seeing visitors also increasing,” Caroline Mwebia, thepark’s tourism warden, told Reuters.

She declined to give visitor numbers and the Kenya WildlifeService did not return calls seeking comment. But nearly aquarter of a million visitors came in 2011, the last yearfigures are publicly available for.

Flamingos eat insect larvae and algae that gives them theirpink hue. High water levels shrink the birds’ ideal breeding andfeeding grounds.

When Nakuru lake first rose, Mwebia said, flamingos left fornearby lakes like Bogoria and Baringo whose waters wereshallower.

But heavy rains in recent years have also flooded thoselakes, forcing the birds to return to Nakuru, where they aresuch an intrinsic attraction that the street leading up to thepark is decorated with flamingo-shaped lampposts.

The global pandemic has battered Kenya’s tourism industry,but Nakuru at least sees a bright spot on the horizon.(Reporting by Jackson Njehia; writing by Elias Biryabarema andGeorge Obulutsa; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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