The Kenya Wildlife Service in collaboration with National Museums of Kenya, Nature Kenya and other birding stakeholders recently conducted a water bird census at Amboseli National Park. This was the first water-fowl census exercise of its kind following over 10 years absence. The fact-finding exercise sought to establish and document the various water-fowl found within Lake Amboseli ecosystem. It also inventoried migrant birds that use the ecosystem as feeding / roosting / breeding zones.
Amboseli National Parks is one of Kenya’s premium parks. It is located close to Mt. Kilimanjaro at the southern border. The “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai dialect meaning “salty dust”. It a prime location in the African continent where one can view large herds of elephants in close proximity. The park diverse habitats ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulphur springs, the savannah and woodlands.
Lake Amboseli’s water levels has been on the rise since 2015. This unique phenomenon is attributed to climate change and subterranean plate tectonic movement in the Rift valley. This increase has resulted into increase acreage of the lake which offers conducive niches for various waterbirds and associated biodiversity.
Some of the rich avian biodiversity encountered include pink-backed pelicans, greater flamingos, lesser flamingos, Egyptian geese, spur-winged plovers, long-toes plovers, African spoonbills, African jacanas, grey herons, red-billed teals, black-winged stilts, curlew sandpipers, pied avocets, African fish eagles, Malagasy pond herons and cape teals.
During the exercise, the research teams peacefully interacted with various mega-fauna including lions and elephants. This is a testament of Amboseli park being a refuge to some of the big five, thus befitting the tagline “Home of the African Elephants“. Through active wildlife conservation interventions, stakeholder engagement, community education initiatives, benefit sharing and provision of security by both KWS personnel and partner agencies, the elephants have not only increased in numbers but also co-existed with humans in migratory corridors.
The census findings will contribute to the status and distribution of biodiversity in the Amboseli region and the country, in line with the National Tourism Blueprint 2030 and National Wildlife Strategy 2030. The census output document will also guide decision making and policy formulation towards the a sustainable clean and healthy ecosystem, various conservation agenda and a myriad of UN Sustainable Development Goals. Currently, wildlife in Kenya is considered as a source of national pride. It is the foundation for the tourism industry that contributes 10% of National Gross development project (GDP) and 11% of total formal workforce.