Lake Natron in North Tanzania is a unique and deadly lake known for its ability to turn wildlife to stone. It is a hypersaline and highly alkaline lake fed by the Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River in Kenya and is rich in sodium and potassium carbonates due to intense evaporation over thousands of years. Its average alkalinity is 10.5, pH surpasses 12, and temperatures range from 40-60°C. The lake’s red color comes from cyanobacteria, and some species of fish, invertebrates, and algae can survive in the lake.
Despite being a death trap for most wildlife, the lake is a haven for endangered Lesser Flamingos. Over 2.5 million of them breed there and make up 75% of the world’s population. They feed on algae and cyanobacteria and are able to tolerate the lake’s toxic waters.
For humans, Lake Natron is not a suitable environment for the living and is more appropriate for the dead. In 2007, a group of wildlife videographers survived a helicopter crash into the lake, but only after suffering burns to their eyes and skin.
Unfortunately, the lake is now under threat due to the proposed construction of a hydroelectric plant on the Ewaso Ng’iro River and a soda ash plant on its shores. The lake’s salinity and flamingos are at risk. Despite being deadly to most, Lake Natron remains a vital ecosystem.