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Kenya Houses the Largest Desert Lake in the World, Lake Turkana

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The most saline of Africa’s large lakes, Turkana is an outstanding laboratory for the study of plant and animal communities. Constituted by a combination of three National Parks serve as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes. The Koobi Fora deposits, rich in mammalian, molluscan and other fossil remains, have contributed more to the understanding of paleo-environments than any other site on the African continent.

Lake Turkana National Parks are constituted of Sibiloi National Park, the South Island and the Central Island National Parks, covering a total area is Lake Turkana basin whose total surface area is over 7 million ha. The Lake is the most saline lake in East Africa and the largest desert lake in the world, surrounded by an arid, seemingly extraterrestrial landscape that is often devoid of life. The long body of Lake Turkana drops down along the Rift Valley from the Ethiopian border, extending 249 kilometers from north to south and 44 km at its widest point with a depth of 30 meters. It is Africa’s fourth largest lake, fondly called the Jade Sea because of its breathtaking color.

The existing ecological conditions provide habitats for maintaining diverse flora and fauna.  At Kobi Fora to the north of Allia Bay, extensive paleontological finds have been made, starting in 1969, with the discovery of Paranthropus boisei. The discovery of Homo habilis thereafter is evidence of the existence of a relatively intelligent hominid two million years ago and reflect the change in climate from moist forest grassland when the now petrified forest were growing to the present hot desert. The human and pre-human fossils include the remains of five species, are all found within one locality. These discoveries are important for understanding the evolutionary history of the human species, turning the regions around it to a learning and study field.

The island parks are the breeding habitats of the Nile crocodile Crocodylus niloticus, the hippopotamus amphibious and several snake species. The lake is an important flyway passage and stopover for palaeartic migrant birds, a home for genets, bushbucks, warthogs, ostriches, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs, velvet monkeys, zebras, and gerenuks, a diverse habitats resulting from ecological changes over time and ranging from terrestrial and aquatic, desert to grasslands and is inhabited by diverse fauna. In situ conservation within the protected areas includes threatened species particularly the reticulated giraffe, lions and gravy zebras and has over 350 recorded species of aquatic and terrestrial birds. The island parks are the breeding habitats of the Nile crocodile, the hippopotamus amphibious and several snake species. Furthermore, the South Island Park also being designated as an important bird area under Birdlife International. The protected area around Lake Turkana provides a large and valuable laboratory for the study of plant and animal communities.

Remoteness has preserved the area as a natural wilderness. On the grassy plains yellow spear grass which turns to glamour during the three day cultural practices supported by the administrations of the day. At first glance, this sounds like a light culture entertainment programme but the three days event will serve a deeper purpose in the region. The Marsabit-Lake Turkana Cultural Festival gives all the communities in Marsabit County an opportunity for the cross-cultural interaction, harmony, cohesion, integration, cooperation and trading. The underlying main goal, therefore, has been and continues to be, promotion of peace and reconciliation. All these was initiated in the year 2008 and has since been an annual event feature unique performances and cultural traditions of 14 ethnic communities which live in Marsabit County: El Molo, Rendille, Samburu, Turkana, Dassanatch, Gabra, Borana, Konso, Sakuye, Garee, Waata, Burji and Somali.

The presentation of the customs and living conditions of the fourteen tribes, their spectacular traditional costumes, arts and crafts, dances and music is a unique and fascinating experience – in particular in light of the stunning geographical characteristics and the limited general knowledge about the Lake Turkana and Marsabit County, a unique Kenyan Experience that every traveler must experience before the oil driller pollute the environment around the lake regions

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