NATURAL RESERVE

Lake Ol Bolossat to be re-gazetted for protection

The lake has hundreds of hippos, bird species, fish and huge bio deposits.

In Summary
  • Wanjiru said the county will enter into a partnership agreement with KWS for protection of the lake.
  • Most local farmers have encroached on the lake causing persistent conflict with the hippos.
Nyandarua executive for Water, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Milka Wanjiru on Wednesday, July 22, 2020
BRIEFING: Nyandarua executive for Water, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Milka Wanjiru on Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Image: NDICHU WAINAINA

Lake Ol Bolossat in Nyandarua will soon be re-gazetted as a natural reserve under the Wildlife Act to enable the county government to fully protect it and generate revenue.

This will bring to an end the persistent human-wildlife conflict, where hippos from the lake have been terrorising residents, sometimes killing or injuring people and livestock and destroying crops.

The approximately 4,800 square kilometres lake is currently a protected wetland, having been gazetted under the Environmental Act in 2019.

Nyandarua executive for Water, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Milka Wanjiru said the county has an advanced process for the management of the water resource.

Wanjiru spoke in her office on Wednesday, responding to journalists who sought to know what the county government was doing to help the farmers whose farms had been destroyed by the hippos especially in Weru ward, Ol Joro Orok.

She said the lake was being re-gazetted as a natural resource because it has rich biodiversity including hundreds of hippos, birds and fish. It is also rich in bio deposits good for making organic fertiliser.

For this natural wealth to be protected “we have to make the lake a fully protected area,” she said.

She said once the process of re-gazettement will be complete by the end of this year, making the lake a natural resource under the county government of Nyandarua. The county will then enter into a partnership agreement with the Kenya Wildlife Services.

The KWS, she said, has the capacity and game wardens will be tasked with protecting the lake and controlling the hippos that have been upsetting the local community. They will also control over-fishing and grazing of livestock along the lake reserve.

A section of Lake Ol Bolossat in Nyandarua county
RESOURCE: A section of Lake Ol Bolossat in Nyandarua county
Image: NDICHU WAINAINA

Among the critical issues to be handled is erecting a fence around the lake. The executive said for the fence to be put in place, correct boundaries must be established. Fencing will likely commence next year after a management plan being worked on by various stakeholders is approved.

Wanjiru said costing of the fence was yet to done, but it is a huge project that will require donor funding or support from the national government.

 

The stakeholders working on the Lake Ol Bolossat management plan include Nema, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forestry Service, the Water Resource Management Authority and the county government of Nyandarua. The local community will also be involved.

The five-year management plan looks into biodiversity management, eco-tourism, water resource management, plant resource management and social economic development.

Some conservation efforts have been going on. The county has partnered with NGOs to plant trees around the lake and educate the community on good agricultural practices to prevent soil erosion that causes silting in the lake.

Wanjiru said although there were genuine cases of hippo problems, most of the affected farmers had encroached on the lake reserve. With the ongoing heavy rains, most of the papyrus and grass the hippos feed on has been covered by water, forcing them to seek food in the nearby farms.

“KWS has been working with us to control the hippos but also our people have encroached so much on the lake. They have cultivated so much even into the lake. Sometimes it is difficult for us to help,” she said.

The hippos and over 200 bird species are the main attraction. Tourists visit the lake for bird counting. Fishing and boating are also becoming major activities, as well as camping and hiking.

Edited by Henry Makori