The Kenyan lakes
The Great Rift Valley has some of the most remarkable lakes in the world with an astonishing biodiversity and Lake Victoria – though not situated in the Rift Valley, is the second largest freshwater lake in the world if Michigan-Huron is counted as two lakes. All of Kenyas lakes are an ornithologists delight with a list of birds exeeding 450 species. The lakes more or less fall into two categories; freshwater lakes such as Lake Victoria, Lake Naivasha and Lake Baringo and alkaline lakes such as Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, Lake Elementeita and lake Magadi. The other grand lake of the region is Lake Turkana – the world’s largest permanent desert lake and though its waters are potable but not palatable, it is the world’s largest alkaline lake with its far northern end crossing into Ethiopia.The other grand lake of the region is Lake Turkana – the world’s largest permanent desert lake and though its waters are potable but not palatable, it is the world’s largest alkaline lake with its far northern end crossing into Ethiopia.
Most of the lakes have huge populations of tilapia fish which is very tasty, and the huge Nile perch – some weighing up to 100-200 kg are to be found in Lake Turkana and in Lake Victoria. The Nile perch was probably introduced to lake Victoria in the 1960’s with catastrophic results; the ferocious predator almost wiped out the majority of the indigenous species of cichlides in the lake. Many of the lakes are inhabited by hippos, crocodiles and in Lake Victoria there are also spotted-necked otters. A wide array of other animals are also to be seen on the shore of the lakes when they come to drink and bathe.
Despite its gigantic size, Lake Victoria is not deeper than 100 meter and in Winam Gulf fishermen are often seen wading in the lake in order to empty their nets. Besides the usual risks associated with being a fisherman, in Kenya there are a few more to consider as people often share the same territory as crocodiles and hippos. Nevertheless, due to the need for crocodiles to regulate their body temperature, they usually don’t come close to where most people live as they prefer to have access to places where they can bask undisturbed on a sandy beach. Still ocasional fatal encounters occur between man and beasts when sharing the same space.