The large water body and a hotspot for migratory birds is in danger of dying after the Tarangire River which is its main water supply, recently changed its course and is now flowing into the nearby Lake Manyara.
Members of the Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET), who recently visited the adjacent Burunge Wildlife Management Area backed by the United States International Development Agency (USAID), witnessed a parched river channel earlier letting out water from Tarangire River into Lake Burunge.
Several tipper trucks were inside the river basin scooping sand and gravel for construction purposes, illustrating that the river bed sand or stones were now just resources being harvested.
Benson Mwaise, executive secretary for the WMA said that Tarangire is a big river and as it flows downhill from the national park, it used to split into two branches, the first leading to Lake Burunge and the second channeling water into Lake Manyara.
Heavy rains that precipitated in the area late last year caused the Tarangire river to swell and erode much of its banks, where tons of debris built up causing blockage inhibiting flow into one outlet that was feeding Lake Burunge, he explained, noting that mounds of soil, rocks and vegetation waste created a wall now blocking the preventing currents that fed the channel leading to Lake Burunge.
For that reason Lake Manyara is overflowing, submerging a considerable part of the wildlife corridor for instance at Mto-wa-Mbu township, such that wildlife authorities were compelled to transfer zebras and wildebeests from the area deeper into Tarangire National Park., he said.
Lake Burunge still has ample water, thanks to ongoing rains and smaller rivers that flow in there, but conservationists fear that, once the long rains end, much of the lake could dry up.
Tarangire is any all-weather river maintaining its water flow to the two lakes whether it is during the rainy season or dry periods, he pointed out.
Mapped within the Babati District of Manyara Region and Monduli District of Arusha Region, Lake Manyara covers 470 square-kilometres and is the lifeline of the national park surrounding it.
Lake Burunge covers 40 square kilometers, chiefly identified with the local WMA as the wildlife watering area, with the total area made up of ten villages, he added.