Factory threatens flamingo breeding grounds

Environmental groups in east Africa say plans to build a soda ash factory at Lake Natron, in northern Tanzania, threaten the 500,000 flamingos that congregate on its shores every year to breed.

The factory, jointly run by Tanzania’s state-owned National Development Corporation and by the Indian conglomerate Tata Chemicals, would produce 500,000 tonnes of sodium carbonate every year, the Independent reported on Wednesday. The proposed site was moved by about 35 kilometres from the lake’s shore after opposition was raised, the report said, but conservationists say it will make little difference.

 "The landscape will be destroyed," said Ken Mwathe of Birdlife Africa. "It doesn’t matter where the actual factory is – they will still be taking the soda ash from the lake."

Conservationists estimate that 75% of the world’s population of lesser flamingos was hatched on the shores of the lake, including nearly all of those found in the lakes and parks of east Africa. Some estimates put the number as high as 2.5 million.

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