Lake Natron – Flora, Fauna, Preservation, Visiting and More

Lake Natron – Flora, Fauna, Preservation, Visiting and More

About Lake Natron

Where is Lake Natron?

Lake Natron is an alkaline or saline lake in Tanzania’s Arusha Region, located in the north Ngorongoro District. It is located in the Gregory Rift, which is part of the East African Rift Valley‘s eastern branch. The lake is located inside Lake Natron Basin, which is a Ramsar Site wetland of worldwide importance.

Satellite image of the lake on 6 March 2017
Satellite image of the lake on 6 March 2017

The Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River, which originates from central Kenya, and hot springs rich in minerals are the main sources of water supply for the Lake Natron. It is relatively shallow, measuring only up to three meters (9.8 feet) deep, and its breadth changes depending on the water level. Lake Natron has a breadth of 57km (35 miles) and is 22 km (14 miles) broad at its widest point. The surrounding region experiences erratic seasonal rainfall, with an annual total of 800 mm (31 inches) falling primarily between May and December. Lake Natron’s temperature is usually above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate) and Natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) have been left behind due to high amounts of evaporation. The lake’s alkalinity can exceed a pH of 12. The neighboring bedrock is made up of alkaline, sodium concentrated trachyte lavas that date back to the Pleistocene. Carbonate is abundant in the lavas, although magnesium and calcium levels are quite low. The lake has been able to concentrate into a caustic alkaline brine as a result of this.

Lake Natron’s Flora

Lake Natron’s color is indicative of lakes with extremely high evaporation rates. Salinity levels rise when water evaporates in the dry season, allowing salt-loving microbes to flourish. Some cyanobacteria, for example, are halophile creatures that create their own food through photosynthesis, just like plants. The deep reds of the open water of the lake and the orange hues of the shallow areas of the lake are produced by the red accessory photosynthesizing pigmentation of the cyanobacteria. The salt-loving bacteria that reside there typically tint the alkali salt crust on the lake’s surface pink or red. Around the lake’s margins, freshwater and salt marshes wetlands host a diverse range of flora.

Lake Natron Animals

The high temperature of Natrol Lake (a maximum of 60 °C [140 °F]) and high and changeable salt concentration are unsuitable to most species. Nonetheless, indigenous algae and animals lake natron such as birds, and invertebrates can be found in Lake Natron. Some Lake natron fish may even thrive in somewhat less saline water along their edges.

Tanzania Natron Lake is the sole regular breeding place for the 2.5 million lesser flamingos in East Africa, who have been classified as “near endangered” due to their reliance on this single locale. When salinity rises, cyanobacteria thrive, and more nesting birds can be supported by the lake. These flamingos, East Africa’s only sizable flock, congregate along neighboring salty lakes to feast on Spirulina (red pigmented blue-green algae). Due to its caustic environment, predators are unable to access their eggs on evaporite islands, which are formed seasonally, Lake.Natron is a safe nesting habitat. The mudflats are also breeding zones for greater lake natron flamingos.

Because of its strong link to the Lesser flamingos as their sole permanent nesting habitat, Lake Natron inspired Disneynature’s nature documentary The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos.

In the waters of the hot spring inlets, two indigenous fish species, the alkaline tilapias Alcolapia ndalani and A. latilabris, flourish. Although A. alcalica is found in Lake Natron, it is not endemic.

Check out this photo of lake natron animals in colour:

Threats to the Environment and Preservation Surrounding Lake Natron Tanzania

Although the land around Lake Natron in Tanzania is uninhabited, there is some seasonal agriculture and grazing. More predicted logging in the Natron watershed regions and a proposed hydroelectric power station on the Ewaso Nyiro across the Kenyan border would pose threats to the salinity balance due to increasing siltation influxes. Despite plans to build a dike at the north end of Lake Natron to restrict the freshwater, the potential of dilution to this breeding site remains a severe concern. There is no official safeguard in place.

The projected establishment of a soda ash factory near Lake Natron’s beaches has become a new hazard. The factory would collect sodium carbonate from lake water and convert it to washing powder which is to be exported. The factory would be accompanied by accommodation for approximately 1000 laborers and a coal-fired power plant to supply electricity to the plant. There is also a chance that the developers may create a hybrid brine shrimp to boost extraction efficiency.

Chris Magin, the international officer of the RSPB for Africa, claims that “In the midst of such chaos, the lesser flamingos’ chances of reproducing are little to none. Lesser flamingos found in East Africa will face extinction as a result of this change “. Lake Natron is the birthplace of 75% of the world’s lesser flamingos. Currently, a consortium of over fifty East African environmental and conservation organizations is waging a global campaign to block Tata Chemicals Ltd of Mumbai in India and Tanzania’s National Development Corporation from building a soda ash factory. Ken Mwathe, Conservation Programme Manager of BirdLife International’s Africa Secretariat, is in charge of the organization that is known as Lake Natron Consultative Group.

Tata Chemicals will not continue with the Natron Proposal, according to a June 2008 message, and any future re-examination will be subject to the currently being prepared Ramsar Wetlands Plan. Tanzania added the Lake Natron Basin to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance on July 4, 2001, due to its unique biodiversity. The World Wildlife Fund’s East African halophytics ecoregion is also located near the lake.

Lake Natron Stone

Lake Natron Stone is a type of rock that is formed from the precipitation of minerals in the highly alkaline waters of Lake Natron in Tanzania. The lake’s waters have a pH level between 9 and 10.5, which is extremely basic, similar to household bleach. The high alkalinity of the lake’s waters causes certain minerals to precipitate out of the water and accumulate on the lake bed and surrounding areas.

Due to its high alkalinity and temperature, people consider Lake Natron dangerous

Visiting Lake of Natron

A view of Ol Doinyo Lengai from Lake Natron
A view of Ol Doinyo Lengai from Lake Natron

A number of campsites are located around Lake Natron, which also serves as the starting point for ascending Ol Doinyo Lengai. Natron Lake Tanzania has enormous tourist appeal potential, which is critical for the development of ecotourism. The main challenges associated with the management of ecotourism in the area were identified as an absence of a management plan, insufficient financing at the operational level, absence of measures to ensure a fair distribution of ecotourism benefits, and underdeveloped infrastructure to sustain diverse sections of tourists. Shompole Conservancy Kenya also has access to the lake.

You can easily travel from Arusha to lake natron. The distance is only 130km.

During your lake natron visit, you might want to consider some of these lake natron hotels and tours:

Lake Natron Halisi Camp

Lake Natron Halisi Camp is a tented camp located in the Lake Natron area of Tanzania. This lake natron camp offers visitors a comfortable and eco-friendly base from which to explore the natural beauty and wildlife of the region.

Lake Natron Lodge

Lake Natron Lodge is a safari lodge located on the shores of lake Tanzania natron. The lodge offers a range of accommodations, including chalets, suites, and family rooms, all designed to blend in with the surrounding environment and offer guests a comfortable and relaxing stay.

Africa Safari Lake Natron

African safari tours that include Lake Natron typically offer visitors the opportunity to explore the natural beauty and wildlife of the region, while also experiencing the unique geology and ecology of the lake and its surrounding area.

Nick Brandt Lake Natron

Nick Brandt is a British photographer who is known for his stunning black and white images of African wildlife and landscapes. In 2011, he released a series of photographs that were taken at Lake Natron, which captured the surreal and haunting beauty of the lake and its surroundings.

Check out some of his lake natron pictures here:

Natron lake stone animals
Natron lake stone animals (Lake Natron stone animals)
Lake Natron statues
Lake Natron statues

Lake Natron Facts – FAQs

What is lake natron?

Lake Natron is a salt lake located in Africa. 

Where is lake natron located?

Lake Natron is located in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border. 

Is lake natron real?

Yes, Africa Lake Natron is a real lake.

Can you swim in lake natron?

It is not recommended to swim in Lake Natron due to its high alkalinity and temperature. 

Why is lake natron red?

Lake Natron appears red or pink in color due to the presence of certain types of salt-loving microorganisms called halophiles, which thrive in the lake’s highly alkaline waters. These microorganisms produce pigments that give the lake its distinctive red or pink hue.

Is lake natron dangerous?

Yes, Lake Natron Africa is considered dangerous.

Why is lake natron dangerous?

Tanzania Lake Natron is considered dangerous due to its high alkalinity and temperature. The ph of lake natron is between 9 and 10.5, which is extremely basic, similar to household bleach.

Why is lake natron so deadly?

The reason why Lake Natron is so deadly is due to its high alkalinity, which is caused by the presence of sodium carbonate and other minerals. The lake natron ph level makes the lake inhospitable to most forms of life, including fish and other aquatic animals.

Are there fish in lake natron?

There are no fish in Lake Natron, as the lake’s waters are too alkaline and hot to support most forms of aquatic life, including fish.

Why does lake natron turns animals to stone?

The reason why lake natron turns animals to stone is due to the lake’s high alkalinity. It can preserve the bodies of animals that die in or near the lake, resulting in a process called calcification, which can make them appear stone-like or mummified. 

Are lake natron mummies real?

There have been reports of mummified animals found near Lake Natron, but there is no evidence to suggest that the lake has the ability to naturally mummify animals or humans. 

Have there been any ​​lake natron human deaths?

There have been some reports of lake natron deaths, but it is unclear how many of these deaths are directly related to the lake’s high alkalinity or other dangerous conditions. Some reports suggest that people who have come into contact with the lake’s waters have experienced skin and eye irritation, while others have suffered burns from the lake’s high temperatures. While you might not turn into a lake natron stone human, it is still highly dangerous.

For more articles related to lakes in Tanzania and their inhabitants click here!

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