Lesser Flamingos could be at risk if the Tanzanian Government goes ahead with its plans to allow the National Development Corporation (NDC) to build two soda ash factories at Lake Natron and Engaruka in northern Tanzania Birdlife International have warned.
The NDC have stated that the factories are expected to produce 1.5 million tonnes of soda ash per year, employ over 1,000 people and are expected to bring in net income of $480 m (720 billion Tanzanian shillings. They have further stated that the Lake Natron factory will be built at least 10 kilometres from the lake “to avoid disrupting the flamingos.”
Festo Semanini, the Head of the BirdLife International Office in Tanzania, based in Arusha says: “Mining of soda ash from Lake Natron would be the greatest ecological mistake Tanzania has ever committed. Indeed, recent studies have shown that mining would wipe out the lesser flamingos, to the detriment of Tanzanian economy and that of other East African countries. Flamingos use over 90 per cent of the Lake and digging the soda ash is the real threat; not where you place the factory.”
Mining of soda ash at Lake Natron would contravene international conventions especially the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.