The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley (Kenya)

Map showing the location of the three lakes (Nakuru, Bogoria and Elementeita) that make up the Kenya Lakes System world heritage siteArea: 320 km2

Inscribed: 2011

Criteria: (vii) aesthetic ; (ix) evolutionary processes ; (x) biodiversity

Values:  The Kenya Lake System covers three of Africa's most spectacular lakes, set in the floor of the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley.  This is an area where the Earth is splitting apart, and the lakes are nestled in the valley floor in a landscape dominated by dramatic escarpments and punctuated by volcanic cones, steaming fumeroles and hot springs.  Straddling the equator, these three alkaline ‘soda' lakes are the setting for one of the Earth's greatest wildlife spectacles - the feeding and movement of massive flocks of lesser flamingos. Numbering up to 4 million birds, they move between the three lakes (and further afield) in response to episodic and seasonal changes in the abundance of the algae on which they feed.

The component parts of this serial world heritage ‘property' are Lakes Nakuru (188 km2), Bogoria (107 km2) and Elementaita (25 km2). The first two of these are designated National Parks and include pristine shoreline habitats protecting a diversity of Africa's spectacular mammalian megafauna - rhino, buffalo, zebra, Rothschild's giraffe, lion, leopard - as well as a rich diversity of habitats and other species.  Lake Elementaita is a National Wildlife Sanctuary, surrounded by conservancy, wildlife trust and communal properties (that serve as a buffer zone to this component of the world heritage site).   Amongst its other attributes Lake Elementaita is the breeding ground for 8,000 pairs of Great White Pelicans, the largest colony in the Rift Valley.  The three lakes are individually designated by Birdlife International as Important Bird Areas, not only for the diversity of their avifauna (with more than 450 species recorded) but also because of their importance to 500 million birds that use the Rift Valley as a migratory corridor between Eurasia and southern Africa.  

 
Slideshow of Kenya Lakes

The slideshow begins at Lake Nakuru with a spectacular display of Lesser Flamingoes, then provides some aerial photos of the shoreline there and some ground-level landscapes.  Some of the main mammalian fauna in Lake Nakuru National Park is then shown - including the distinctive Rothschild's giraffe, zebra, buffalo and white rhino - before proceeding to Lake Bogoria.  Some landscape views of this area show how it is more tightly constrained by the steep escarpment walls than the other lakes, and includes photos of the hot springs and geysers at Lake Bogoria, one of the park's main visitor attractions.  The slideshow is completed with a few landscape views of Lake Elementaita, its shoreline of yellow Acacia forests, and the hot springs at its eastern end, used as a bathing pool by local residents 

 Google Earth View:  To view satellite imagery of the Kenya Lake System on Google Earth, click here.  This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing.  The window opens onto a superb image of the northern half of Lake Nakuru, showing the adjacent town of Nakuru and highlighting some of the development challenges facing the site.  By panning out and moving to the north, the next lake that comes into view is Lake Bogoria, and to the south-east, Lake Elementaita.

Links to other places in Africa's Great Rift Valley:  Lake Turkana  I  Lake Malawi Kahuzi-Biega Virunga  I  Bwindi Impenetrable

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Other Links: Google Earth |  Official UNESCO Site Details UNEP-WCMC Site Description  I  Birdlife Nakuru IBA  I  Birdlife Bogoria IBA  I  Birdlife Elementaita IBA

View of Lake Nakuru, one of the three lakes that make up the Kenya Lake System in the great Rift Valley world heritage siteLesser flamingo feeding in Lake Nakuru National Park (part of the Kenya Lake System world heritage site)Geysers at Lake Bogoria in the Kenya Lake System world heritage siteWhite rhino is one of the endangered species protected within the Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley world heritage site

 

 

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