Lake Nakuru National Park This is an IBA in Danger! 

Country/territory: Kenya

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A4i, A4iii (1999)
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Area: 18,800 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2022 unfavourable very high medium
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Site description (2001 baseline)
This area comprises a very shallow, strongly alkaline lake (3,300 ha), with surrounding woodland and grassland. Set in a picturesque landscape, the park abuts Nakuru town, an important and expanding agricultural and industrial centre. The lake catchment is bounded by Menengai Crater to the north, the Bahati Hills to the north-east, the Lion Hill ranges to the east, Eburu Crater to the south and the Mau escarpment to the west. Three major rivers, the Njoro, Makalia and Enderit, drain into the lake, together with treated water from the town’s sewage works and the outflow from several springs along the shore. Nakuru was first gazetted as a bird sanctuary in 1960 and upgraded to National Park status in 1968. A northern extension to the park was added in 1974. The foundation of the lake’s simple food chains is the cyanophyte Spirulina platensis, which often occurs as a unialgal bloom. At such times it can support huge numbers of Phoenicopterus minors and the fish Oreochromis alcalicus grahami (introduced in 1960 from Lake Magadi, IBA KE047, to curb mosquitoes). The fish in turn support a number of secondary consumers. The lakeshores are mainly open alkaline mud, with areas of sedge Cyperus laevigatus and Typha marsh around the river inflows and springs, giving way to grassland and a belt of Acacia xanthophloea woodland. Rocky hillsides on the park’s eastern perimeter are covered with Tarchonanthus scrub and magnificent Euphorbia forest.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. The lake is internationally famous for its populations of Phoenicopterus minor; numbers can reach 1.5 million at times, though drastic and unpredictable fluctuations occur. Undoubtedly Nakuru is a very important feeding site for this species; attempts by flamingos to breed here have not been successful. Other waterbirds have increased considerably in numbers and diversity since the introduction of fish in 1961. At times Nakuru is a major feeding ground for Pelecanus onocrotalus, which nest on rocky islets in nearby Lake Elmenteita and move to Nakuru daily to feed. Large numbers of Palearctic waders winter at Nakuru or use the site on passage, and Nakuru (at least in the past) has been a key site in the eastern Rift Valley flyway. Nakuru is rich in birds generally—some 450 species have been recorded. Globally threatened species include Ardeola idae (a non-breeding visitor, May to October); Phoenicopterus minor (a key feeding site for this species); Falco naumanni (a passage migrant, relatively common in the past); and Prionops poliolophus (probably resident in the Acacia woodland, where it has nested). Regionally threatened species include Podiceps cristatus (used to occur in numbers, but no recent records), Oxyura maccoa (no recent records), Casmerodius albus (up to 84 recorded, numbers have declined in recent years), Polemaetus bellicosus (sparse resident), Rynchops flavirostris (no recent records) and Euplectes progne (seasonal visitor, in long grassland).

Non-bird biodiversity: The park is a sanctuary for the rhinos Diceros bicornis (CR) and Ceratotherium simum (LR/cd), the latter introduced from South Africa. Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi was also introduced into the park in 1977. The rare bat Hipposideros megalotis is resident. Other large mammals, some recently reintroduced, include Panthera leo (VU) and small numbers of Acinonyx jubatus (VU).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Lake Nakuru National Park. Downloaded from on 06/12/2023.