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Flamingo threat put on temporary hold

…survival must not be jeopardised

A temporary lifeline has been thrown to the one million lesser flamingos of Tanzania’s Lake Natron, threatened by huge industrial development on their most important breeding site in the world. The plan to build a soda ash plant on the lake, in northern Tanzania in the Great Rift Valley, has been thrown out for now and the developers, Lake Natron Resources, have been ordered to produce a new and better environmental statement and consider other sites for soda ash extraction. The firm is jointly owned by the Indian company TATA Chemicals and the Tanzanian Government.

Dr Mike Rands, Chief Executive of BirdLife, said: “The proposal to develop Lake Natron for soda ash extraction is misguided and the decision today is a victory for conservation and for common sense. The flamingos are not safe yet. The developers should choose another location for extracting soda ash and abandon their plans for Lake Natron”.

Groups reporting to Tanzania’s environment ministry called time early on today’s meeting to assess the developer’s obligatory environmental assessment for the soda ash plant. Of the 14 bodies present, including conservation groups, national parks and the EU, representing donors, most said the development should be rejected because of the risk of driving away the flamingos, harming other species and irreversibly damaging Lake Natron, which is protected by international law.

Lota Melamari, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, who was at today’s meeting said: ”The survival of the lesser flamingo must not be jeopardised.”

4th July 2014