|Location||Kenya, Rift Valley Province|
|Central coordinates||36o 17.00' East 1o 52.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4iii|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Site description This is a shallow alkaline lake, its surface largely covered by crusts of sodium carbonate, 85 km south-west of Nairobi in a low-lying basin on the floor of the Rift Valley. Extensive surface water is present only after heavy rains over the local catchment, when run-off reaches the northern end of the lake via three wadis. Most of the lake is a vast expanse of solid sodium carbonate (trona) and allied salts, some 15–30 m thick. This is mined by the Magadi Soda company, whose factory and associated town are on the north-eastern shore. The lake’s main basin is 29 km wide and oriented almost due north-south; the north-west arm is 12 km long and 2.5 km wide. The lake is surrounded and fed with water by a number of hot springs that feed shallow, permanent lagoons at the northern, southern and western extremities (other springs well up invisibly below the surface). These warm lagoons are carpeted with cyanophytes, which are grazed upon by shoals of the fish Oreochromis alcalicus grahami. The climate is inhospitably hot and arid (mean maximum temperatures c.35°C, rainfall c.400 mm/year), and the vegetation surrounding the lake is sparse, open bushland.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor||winter||1994||50,000 individuals||-||A1, A4i||Near Threatened|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||1994||20,000-49,999 individuals||unknown||A4iii|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Wetlands (inland)||Saline lakes||100%|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity The cichlid fish Oreochromis alcalicus grahami, endemic to alkaline lakes in this part of the Rift Valley, is abundant in the hot springs. The springs also contain a highly specialized microbial fauna, with several endemic species.
References Bennun (1992a, 1993), Brown (1973), Crees (1985), Hughes and Hughes (1992), Nasirwa (1998), Nasirwa and Bennun (1994, 1995), Nasirwa and Owino (2000), Owino and Nasirwa (2001), Oyugi and Owino (1998a,b, 1999).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Magadi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/09/2014
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