An environmental agency has raised the red flag over the future of Lake Ol Bolossat which is located in Nyandarua County.
Speaking to the Nation, the National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC) Secretary, Dr John Chumo, warned that the lake, which is unique in the sense that it is both salty and freshwater, was likely to “die in the next 10 years.”
He attributed the phenomenon to degradation in the upper catchment as a result of increased agricultural activities and a growing population.
“If the current situation is not addressed, the lake is likely to die in a decade’s time. There is an urgent need to protect the lake and the catchment areas,” said Dr Chumo.
The environmental watchdog secretary called for the gazettement of the natural resource for better management by the county government and relevant agencies.
“Some of the people have encroached on the riparian land, while others have fenced it off near the lake, affecting the aquatic life,” Dr Chumo said.
He noted that siltation was also a major concern due to human activities in the upper escarpment areas of Nyandarua County.
According to the Integrated Management Plan for Lake Ol Bolossat 2008-2013, the number of hippos recorded at the lake from 1987 to 1989 ranged from a mean minimum of 89 and a mean maximum of 176.
The maximum number coincided with wet seasons while the minimum number coincided with dry seasons. The distribution of hippos in the lake was dependent on biomass distribution of green herbage on the riparian area.
The report noted that the number of hippos fluctuated, for instance, as a result of competition with livestock, changes in land use and droughts.
“Competition between hippos and livestock is prevalent along the narrow stretches of land bordering the lake especially during the dry seasons,” the report revealed.
According to a 2017 synthesis report prepared by Jabes Okumu, human population pressure in the catchment has steadily increased, causing pressure on the available land and other natural resources.
“High human population density has caused land fragmentation, dispersal of animal communities, habitat loss, degradation and species extinction,” he revealed in the report.
The report further noted that the local communities excavated stone in quarries around the lake, leading to water pollution and sedimentation of the lake.
“This problem is further aggravated by the recent upgrade of the feeder roads done by the county government without complying with the environmental regulations and standards,” wrote Mr Okumu.
In the report, he pointed out that the condition of the lake was likely to worsen if it remained unprotected and little attention was given to its conservation.
“Gazettement of the lake as a protected area will help end significant threats currently facing it and provide an institutional and legal framework that will anchor all the conservation and development initiatives around the lake and, most importantly, allow for consistent biodiversity monitoring,” he explained.
Mr Okumu voiced the need for ecological studies to be conducted to determine the number of hippos that can be supported by the lake ecosystem.