Lake Balangida Lelu

Country/territory: Tanzania

IBA criteria met: A1, A3, A4i, A4iii (2002)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 13,300 ha

Nature Tanzania

Site description (2002 baseline)
Lake Balangida Lelu lies along the bottom of the south-eastern escarpment of the Mbulu Highlands and only 50 km north-east of Singida (IBA 34). Like other Rift Valley lakes, it is formed in a shallow basin with no outlet and is therefore alkaline in character. The short grass along the western shoreline merges into Acacia tortilis woodland that grades into Brachystegia woodland along the escarpment. The eastern shoreline rises quite quickly into a series of broken hills dominated by Acacia woodland.

The lake is 13 km long and 4 km at its widest point, although this varies between seasons and years. At the northern end of the lake and along parts of the eastern shoreline, there are extensive stands of Sedge, holding populations of birds associated with fresh water. As with other similar lakes, there is an area of overflow at one end that floods during heavy rains providing rich, but temporary, feeding for concentrations of waterbirds. The site defined here comprises 6,900 ha below the 4,600 ft contour in which the lake lies and 6,400 ha of surrounding woodland and escarpment.

The northern end of the lake rises into extensively cultivated land along the road to Katesh and there is quite dense cultivation to the south along the valley floor.

Key biodiversity

There is little doubt that the "clouds" of Ruffs seen along the southern shore in December 2000 form an important component of this species’ wintering habitat in the Rift valley, but they are unlikely to meet the IBA 1% level of 20,000 birds for this particular site. Little Stints are also likely to use this site in large flocks that may well occasionally reach 1% levels of 10,000 birds, as 8,600 were counted in January 1995 (Baker 1997).

A count of Cape Teals on 14 January 1995 revealed 303 birds (Baker 1997). Although the IBA threshold for this species is 3,500, Baker (in press) considers the northern population to be less than 7,000 birds with a resultant 1% level of only 65 birds.

The Tanzanian endemic Ashy Starling occurs throughout the Acacia tortilis woodland. No observations have been made in the Brachystegia woodland along the escarpment, but this habitat type is near its northern limits in the Rift Valley and will contain some interesting species.

Other threatened/endemic wildlife
None known, but Elephants are likely to occur, at least seasonally. Most of the other large mammals typical of this habitat will also occur, but at low densities due to uncontrolled hunting.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Lake Balangida Lelu. Downloaded from on 29/02/2024.