KENYA & TANZANIA, AFRICA

Lake Jipe

Lake Jipe is a small, shallow lake with an area of 28 km² and an average depth less than 3 m. Lake Jipe is located aside the Kenya-Tanzania border, just east of the northern Pare Mountains of Tanzania (Mwanga District, in the Kilimanjaro region). Kenya's Tsavo West National Park borders the southern part of the lake, while Kilimanjaro dominates the horizon some distance to the northwest. Lake Jipe is quite small and isolated. The lake is of great importance for people and nature who live in the vicinity.

What makes it special

Scientific data show that the lake has shrunk by 80% over the last 40 years. Although there is few data on the lake, experts calculate that the storage capacity has decreased to less than one third between 2010 and 2020.

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Biodiversity

Long isolation from other waters led to a unique endemic fish fauna, including the Jipe tilapia. The waters of Jipe are teeming with large fish, mainly catfish and cyprinoids. Jipe is an ecosystem rich in biodiversity and famous for the waterfowl that frequent its reedy shores; these include storks, herons, pelicans, spur-winged plovers, ducks and geese. Lesser Jacana and African Swamp hen are common on the lake and Madagascar Squacco Heron, Black Heron, African Darter and African Skimmer are very abundant. People use the area around the lake for grazing by huge herds of game. Hippos and Nile Crocodiles are abundant.

Local Communities

Some 120.000 people depend on the lake for their livelihood. The inhabitants of villages surrounding Lake Jipe are mainly involved in fishing, agriculture and animal husbandry.

Threats

Threats include changes in water quality (increased salinity and turbidity reported by local communities), changes in breeding and nursery habitats, increased siltation from human activities in the catchments, and the spread of macrophytes such as the invasive Southern Cattail (Typha domingensis) around the lake margins. The decline in lake level, possibly due to heavy siltation and reduced inflow from increased water abstraction and altered water flow patterns at the mouth of the Lumi wetlands, has facilitated the growth of Southern Cattail. In addition, native water plants such as Nymphaea and water lettuce disappeared, possibly linked to changes in water quality. Consequence is a reduction in the diversity and numbers of avifauna.