Kenya plans to gazette Lake Olbolosatt in Nyandarua County as a national game reserve to conserve the water body and its riparian land and end human-wildlife conflict.
The once vibrant lake is home to thousands of dik-diks, buffalo, hippos, gazelles, and hundreds of migratory and native bird species. However, the dwindling water levels cannot comfortably house the remaining hippos, resulting in conflict between man and hippo.
Nyandarua County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich says Kenya Wildlife Service officers have fallen victim of stray hippos, who venture out of the shallow lake into human settlement areas, in the escalating human-wildlife conflict.
“One officer is recovering in hospital after being bitten by a hippo he was trying to herd back into the water. The hippo had raided local farms and was a threat to the community,” said Mr Cherutich, adding that the county had planted nearly 200,000 seedlings around the lake to reclaim and rehabilitate riparian land.
According to senior warden Louryen Yierar, locals also provoke the hippos out of the water so as to kill them for meat. After massive killing of birds, locals turned to hippos in the lake.
Gazetting the lake as a national reserve will help protect the animals. Apart from hippos, leopards and elephants are the other animals involved in human-wildlife conflict in the region.
Measuring 43.3km squared, Lake Olbolosatt is the source of the Ewaso-Nyiro River, used by communities, livestock, and wildlife in the dry Isiolo, Laikipia, Samburu, and Garissa Counties.
Ewaso-Nyiro also supports wildlife in Buffalo Springs, Shaba National Reserve, and Lorian Swamp in Wajir where it ends. The lake was gazetted as an important wetland in February .