Flamingos have been spotted again in the Nakura National Park in Kenya. Eight years ago, increasing water in Lake Nakuru caused the pink-colored flamingos to leave.
They were a major attraction in the park. Rangers say their disappearance caused a drop in visitor numbers. Recently, they saw a herd of flamingos searching for food in the lake, while others flew in a sine-wave pattern above.
“With the increase now of the number of flamingos we have started seeing visitors also increasing,” Caroline Mwebia, the park’s tourism officer, told Reuters. The area around the lake depends on tourism for employment and revenue.
Mwebia did not give visitor numbers, but nearly a quarter of a million visitors came in 2011, according to publicly available figures.
Flamingos get their pink color from eating insect larvae and algae. High water levels shrink the birds’ ideal situation for breeding and feeding.
When Nakuru lake first rose, Mwebia said, flamingos left for nearby lakes like Bogoria and Baringo whose waters were less deep. In recent years, heavy rainfall have also flooded those lakes, forcing the birds to return to Nakuru.
The flamingos are so popular among locals and tourists, that the street leading up to the park is decorated with flamingo-shaped lampposts.
The global pandemic has hit Kenya’s tourism industry hard, but Nakuru at least sees a bright pink spot on the horizon.