Located to the South West of Tsavo West National Park, Lake Jipe is a small, shallow lake (area 28 sq. km and average depth less than 3 m), lying astride the Kenya-Tanzania border, just to the east of the northern Pare Mountains of Tanzania (Mwanga district, in the Kilimanjaro region). It is 12 km long and 2.5 km wide, 12 square km belong to Tanzania and 14 square km to Kenya. Tsavo West National Park of Kenya borders the southern portion of the lake while Mt Kilimanjaro dominates the horizon some distance to the northwest.
So unknown is this treasure of Lake Jipe not many Tanzanians know of its existence or location. This lake has a many water birds and is one of the few places in East Africa that the Lesser Jacana and Purple Gallinule are common. Also Madagascar Squacco Herron, Black Herron, African Darter and African Skimmer are often seen here.
Other wildlife seen here are Hippopotamus, Otters, crocodiles, waterbucks and elephants. The northern half of the lake is in Kenya in the Tsavo West National Park. Tsavo West is famed for its huge elephant population - you stand a good chance of spotting an elephant in this unusual and very off the beaten track excursion. The lake is one of Kenya's most important wetlands, providing refuge for numerous water and marsh birds. It also unfortunately attracts a terrifying number of mosquitoes and lake flies. There is a motor boat for hire at the gate, or you could do it the local way and hire a dug out from the local fishermen in the village two kilometers from here.
Lake Jipe receives its main inflow from Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania via River Lumi passing through Kenya. The other main inflow is via River Muvulani from the Pare Mountains. Several temporary streams, mainly from the Pare Mountains, also drain into Lake Jipe. The lake has one outflow, the River Ruvu, located in Tanzania to the south of River Lumi, the main inflow.
The collapse of the fishery is due to changes in water quality (increase in salinity and turbidity reported by riparian communities), breeding and nursery environments, increase in siltation due to increased human activities in the catchments. Expansion of the emergent fringe of macrophytes dominated by T. domingensis facilitated by declining lake level and/or heavy siltation in the lake, reduced inflow into the lake possibly due to increased water abstraction in the catchments and/or interference with initial water flow patterns into the lake by heavy siltation in the wetlands at the mouth of River Lumi, disappearance of the original euhydrophytes such as Nymphaea and Water lettuce, possibly due to changing water quality and apparent decline in the diversity and number of avifauna are among the major challenges facing Lake Jipe.
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