Lake Victoria Basin
– Conservation of the birds and biodiversity of the Lake Victoria Basin (the Greatest of Africa’s Great Lakes) through community-led action and sustainable development
Year: 2013 – 2015
With a surface area of 68,800 square kilometres, Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and the largest tropical lake in the world. The swamps, forests and islands in and around Lake Victoria are important for a diversity of wildlife, and there are at least 16 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) directly connected to the lake system within bordering countries (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) and more in the wider Lake Victoria Basin (including in Rwanda and Burundi). They provide habitat to species such as the Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri (NT), the Shoebill Balaeniceps rex (Vu) as well as important congregations of water birds (e.g. 5,500 breeding pairs of Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo at Lutoboka Point in Uganda).
The lake and its resources are economically very important to the countries that border it (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania). For example, Lake Victoria supports Africa’s largest inland fishery and resources and ecosystem services from the area support the livelihoods of millions of people. However, the Lake Victoria Basin is one of the most densely populated rural areas in the world, and high levels of poverty are a major hindrance to sustainable biodiversity management. The lake, the lakeshore and the lake basin are regarded as engines of economic growth in countries where poverty alleviation is of the highest priority. As a result of these pressures the biodiversity and ecological integrity of IBAs around Lake Victoria are threatened by a number of factors including:
- Pollution – domestic waste and agricultural waste disposed directly into the lake, and catchment degradation affecting the water quality flowing through the IBAs into the lake
- Invasive species – especially water hyacinth which clogs water ways and obstructs the river bank
- Habitat degradation – especially through frequent burning, cutting down of riparian forests, over-harvesting of Typha reeds
- Persecution – especially through egg collection, disturbance of breeding colonies and hunting for local consumption.
The goal of this project is to conserve the birds and biodiversity of the Lake Victoria Basin, and sustain the ecosystem benefits that its Important Bird Areas provide for human well-being, by building and strengthening a network of community-based Local Conservation Groups