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Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley

Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley

The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley , a natural property of outstanding beauty, comprises three inter-linked relatively shallow lakes (Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementaita) in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya and covers a total area of 32,034 hectares. The property is home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversities in the world. It is the single most important foraging site for the lesser flamingo anywhere, and a major nesting and breeding ground for great white pelicans. The property features sizeable mammal populations, including black rhino, Rothschild's giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs and is valuable for the study of ecological processes of major importance.

Réseau des lacs du Kenya dans la vallée du Grand Rift

Le Réseau des lacs du Kenya dans la vallée du Grand Rift comprend trois lacs interconnectés et peu profonds (Lac Bogoria, lac Nakuru et Lac Elementaita) qui se trouvent dans la province de la Rift Valley au Kenya. Sa superficie est de 32 034 hectares. Le bien héberge 13 espèces d'oiseaux menacées au plan mondial et la diversité des espèces d'oiseaux est une des plus élevées au monde. C'est le plus important site de nourrissage de la planète pour les flamants nains et un important site de nidification et de nourrissage pour les pélicans blancs. On y trouve aussi des populations de bonne taille de mammifères, dont le rhinocéros noir, la girafe de Rothschild, le grand koudou, le lion, le guépard et le lycaon. Le site se prête particulièrement bien à des études sur des processus écologiques particulièrement importants.

Система озер в Великой рифтовой долине

Система озер в Великой рифтовой долине, природный объект отличающийся исключительной живописностью, был впервые включен в Список Всемирного наследия на нынешней сессии Комитета. В Рифтовой долине Кении расположены три относительно мелководных озера (Богория, Накуру и Элементаита), общая площадь которых составляет 32034 га. Здесь обитают 13 видов птиц, которым угрожает полное уничтожение за пределами заповедника. Здесь сложилось самое представительное в мире разнообразие пернатых. Территория является самым обширным среди известных мест выгула малых фламинго, а также одним из наиболее значительных мест гнездования и выкармливания птенцов больших пеликанов. В заповеднике обитают значительные популяции млекопитающих, включая черного носорога, жирафа Ротшильда, большого куду, льва, леопарда и дикой собаки. Это место представляет большую ценность с точки зрения возможности изучения важнейших экологических процессов.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Sistema de lagos de Kenya en el Gran Valle del Rift

El sitio natural Sistema de lagos de Kenya en el Gran Valle del Rift, de belleza excepcional, situado en la provincia keniana del Valle del Rift, totaliza una superficie de 32.034 hectáreas y comprende tres lagos poco profundos comunicados entre sí: el lago Bogoria, el Nakuru y el Elementaita. El sitio alberga 13 especies de aves amenazadas de extinción a nivel mundial y la diversidad de sus especies de pájaros es una de las mayores del planeta. Además, es el lugar más importante del mundo para la alimentación del flamenco enano y una zona importante para la nidificación y cría del gran pelícano blanco. También se encuentran en la zona poblaciones considerables de algunas especies de mamíferos como el rinoceronte negro, la jirafa de Rothschild, el gran kudú, el león, la onza y el licaón. El sitio es también valioso para el estudio de procesos ecológicos de gran importancia.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Keniaans merensysteem in de Grote Slenk vallei

Het systeem van Keniaanse meren in de Grote Slenk vallei is een natuurgebied van buitengewone schoonheid. Het gebied bestaat uit de drie onderling verbonden, relatief ondiepe meren Bogoria, Nakuru en Elementaita. Het merensysteem beslaat een totale oppervlakte van 32.034 hectare. De omgeving is de thuisbasis van 13 bedreigde vogelsoorten en heeft de hoogste vogeldiversiteit ter wereld. Het is het belangrijkste foerageergebied voor de flamingo, en een belangrijke broedplaats voor grote witte pelikanen. In het gebied komen ook omvangrijke zoogdierpopulaties voor, waaronder de zwarte neushoorn, Rothschildgiraffe, grote koedoe, leeuw, cheeta en wilde honden.

Source: unesco.nl

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Flamingo congregation in Lake Bogoria © NMK
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Kenya Lake System is composed of three alkaline lakes and their surrounding territories: Lake Bogoria, 10,700 ha; Lake Nakuru, 18,800 ha; and Lake Elementaita, 2,534 ha. These lakes are found on the floor of the Great Rift Valley where major tectonic and/or volcanic events have shaped a distinctive landscape. Some of the world's greatest diversities and concentrations of bird species are recorded within these relatively small lake systems. For most of the year, up to 4 million Lesser Flamingos move between the three shallow lakes in an outstanding wildlife spectacle. Surrounded by hot springs, geysers and the steep escarpment of the Rift Valley with its volcanic outcrops, the natural setting of the lakes provides an exceptional experience of nature.

Criterion (vii): The Kenya Lake System presents an exceptional range of geological and biological processes of exceptional natural beauty, including falls, geysers, hot springs, open waters and marshes, forests and open grasslands concentrated in a relatively small area and set among the landscape backdrop of the Great Rift Valley. The massed congregations of birds on the shores of the lakes including up to 4 million Lesser Flamingos which move between the three lakes is an outstanding wildlife spectacle. The natural setting of all three lakes surrounded by the steep escarpment of the Rift Valley and associated volcanic features provides an exceptional experience of nature.

Criterion (ix): The Kenya Lake System illustrates ongoing ecological and biological processes which provide valuable insights into the evolution and the development of soda lake ecosystems and the related communities of plants and animals. Low species diversity and abundant resident populations of birds and other animals make the soda lakes of the property especially important environments in which to conduct investigations of trophic dynamics and ecosystem processes. The production of huge biomass quantities in these distinctive soda lakes and the food web that this green algae supports are also of international scientific value, and provide critical support to birds, which visit the property in large numbers as part of their migration in response to seasonal and episodic changes in the environment.

Criterion (x): The Kenya Lake System is the single most important foraging site for the Lesser Flamingo in the world with about 1.5 million individuals moving from one lake to the other and provides the main nesting and breeding grounds for Great White Pelicans in the Great Rift Valley. The lakes' terrestrial zones also contain important populations of many mammal and bird species that are globally or regionally threatened. They are home to over 100 species of migratory birds and support globally important populations of Black-Necked Grebe, African Spoonbill, Pied Avocet, Little Grebe, Yellow Billed Stork, Black Winged Stilt, Grey-Headed Gull and Gull Billed Tern. The property makes a critical contribution to the conservation of the natural values within the Great Rift Valley, as an integral part of the most important route of the African-Eurasian flyway system where billions of birds are found to travel from northern breeding grounds to African wintering places.


The three lakes constituting the property represent the most significant Rift Valley lakes within Kenya, and are an essential component of those in the Great Rift Valley as a whole. Each of the three components of the property is gazetted as a protected area and whilst the property is of small size, it contains the main ecosystems and features that support its Outstanding Universal Value. Surrounded by an area of rapidly growing population, the property is under considerable threat from surrounding pressures. These threats include siltation from soil erosion, increased abstraction of water in the catchment, degradation of land, deforestation, growth in human settlements, overgrazing, wildlife management, tourism and pollution coming from Nakuru town. Management authorities must be vigilant in continuing to address these issues through effective multi-sector and participatory planning processes.

Protection and management requirements

Each component of the property enjoys adequate legal protection, up-to-date management plans and a satisfactory on-ground management presence. In order to maintain and enhance the Outstanding Universal Value of the property it will be important to sustain and enhance this effective management, and to address a range of long-term issues. These include catchment level management of threats and development with particular emphasis on management of groundwater and surface pollution and forest cover, inter-sectoral and participatory management processes especially with respect to environmental impact assessment of adjoin development and the building of increased ecological connectivity between the component parts of the system. Transboundary cooperation is also important as the values of the property are partly dependant on protection of other lake and wetland areas that support migratory species. In this regard there is potential for other areas, including Lake Natron in Tanzania, to be considered as part of a future transnational serial World Heritage property.