In Summary
  • Area residents say elephants converge annually at the breathtaking reserve, which also serves as their maternity ward.
  • Wanton felling of trees for charcoal burning, farming and grazing have seen the lake almost dry up.

Sitting at the base of Kerio Valley in Baringo County is the Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve, which once put Kenya on the world map due to its wide variety of animal and bird species.

Unknown to many, the reserve once renowned for having the largest animal concentration in Africa after Lake Chad — with more than 10,000 crocodiles, 400 elephants, 13 species of other mammals and a variety of rare birds — is on its deathbed.

Area residents say elephants converge annually at the breathtaking reserve, which also serves as their maternity ward.

WATER LILY

The lake derives its name from the water lily, which is locally known as Norok. “Elephants are very intelligent animals.

“They even hold ceremonies to welcome newborns into their society just like humans,” Mr Joseph Kiptala, a Tugen elder, told the Nation during a tour of the lake last week.

The reserve used to be a major revenue earner for the defunct Baringo County Council, fetching more than Sh10 million per year from thousands of local and foreign visitors. But the continued encroachment by communities living in the reserve threatens to kill the fragile lake.

Wanton felling of trees for charcoal burning, farming and grazing have seen the lake almost dry up.

A dilapidated signpost directs visitors to Kamnarok Game Reserve. The park once hosted 10,000 crocodiles, 400 elephants and rare bird species. PHOTO | WYCLIFF KIPSANG | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Most wild animals have either died or fled to the nearby Rimoi National Reserve in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, dealing a blow to the local tourism sector. The defunct Baringo County Council tried to evict the more than 3,000 people living in the park but they refused to move out, demanding alternative land.

EIGHT COUNTIES

Seven sub-locations in Baringo North Sub-county, namely, Muchukwo, Katibel, Keturwo, Konoo, Barwessa, Kaptilomwo and Kuikui fall inside the reserve.

There is some hope for the revival of the reserve after eight counties that form the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb) signed a climate change mitigation pact, which will lead to the conservation of the Kerio River ecosystem.

The Noreb project, dubbed Community Resilience in Kerio River Ecosystem, seeks to mitigate the increasing vulnerability of herders and farmers in Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties to climate change through environmental conservation.

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