Conservation of the Lesser Flamingo

The Lesser Flamingo feeds and roosts in a network of key sites namely; Kasenyi, Bagusa, Maseche, Nshenyi, Munyanyange and Nyamunuka which are all saline crater lakes in South-Western Uganda. All these sites are located in and /or near Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area. Munyanyange in particular as the main feeding ground is located outside the protected and adjacent to Katwe Town Council.

The above sites have experienced degradation over the past decades due to human induced factors. The main cause of habitat degradation in this area is the salt extraction industry for domestic supply in the Katwe-Kabatooro Town Council.

Salt mining also takes place in Kasenyi Crater Lake. This is the only source of rock salt for Uganda.

The total number of people who depend on this activity is estimated at over 3,000 including family members, traders and transporters. The industry has also attracted secondary activities leading to the growth of Katwe-Kabatooro Township with a population of about 7,000 people. Wastes from salt extraction and domestic wastes from the township enter the salt lakes/habitat and affect the feeding processes of the birds.

The growth of Katwe Township puts pressure on environmental resources for building materials, energy and domestic fuel and settlement space resulting in deforestation, and land reclamation. Consequently, eroded materials from the uplands end up in the lakes, silting and polluting them.

Some communities in the area engage in cotton growing. Fertilizers and pesticides used in cotton growing are washed into the lakes hence altering lake chemistry. This may affect birds including migratory species.
Oil exploration has been taking place in South-Western Uganda in the last 5 years. Although, no wells have been successfully drilled in the area, future mineral exploration and production activities will greatly destroy the environment and lead to deaths of flamingos. The crater lakes are extremely important for other migratory waterbirds such as Avocets, Gulls and Terns, many species of waders and acts as roosting site for birds that feed on freshwater water lakes of Lake George and Lake Edward.
The fisher community in Queen Elizabeth Conservation area is also expanding rapidly resulting in degradation through increased resource offtake and pollution. There is need to monitor the use of resources and minimize pollution in the lakes because it affects waterfowl populations.