In 2001, Lake Natron in Tanzania was declared a Ramsar Site. It is only one of five world-wide natural breeding sites of the Lesser Flamingo and is home to 75% of the global population.

The Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) is the smallest flamingo species in size, but being the most numerous in number it is an ornithological spectacle of high economic value to the East African tourists industry.

It is a major global tourist attraction and an iconic symbol of conservation and highlights the importance of the Ramsar designation of important wetlands. Despite its numbers, this bird is currently categorised as globally "Near Threatened", listed in the 2009 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Population declines over the past 30 years of 20-40% are estimated, and some major recent, mortality events in the order of 100 - 200 thousand birds, suggest that this species may be considered to qualify for a "threatened category" in the near future. Its vulnerability is highlighted by the fact that there are only five known, natural, regular breeding sites in the world, and that 75-80% of the global population, the whole of the East Africa stock (EA), depends entirely on Lake Natron for its breeding success and survival.

There is an action plan in operation covering the period 2010-20 (see link below) which concentrates on Lake Natron. This regional sub-population is shared by Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia and ranges between 1.5-2.5 million, of an estimated global population of 2-3 million. The bird's natural habitats, paricularly within the East Africa Rift Valley face threats of different magnitudes. Without concerted and carefully focused conservaioon actions, the Lesser Flamingo risks joining the IUCN Red List category of "Vulnerable". This Action Plan, therefore is cognizant with the fact that the East African sub-population shares the same common regional population pool. The Lesser Flamingo is largely confined to nine of the major Rift Valley soda lakes, and therefore each country has a trans-boundary responsibility to jointly manage the current, shared population.


e-Learning about Flamingo Conservation

Module 1

Module 2

Module 3

Flamingos in the Rift

Darwin Initiative Final Report

Darwin Initiative Assets

Kenyan Lakes World Heritage Proposal