East AfricaTanzania

Lake Natron In Tanzania’ Africa’s Most Dangerous Water Body

Story Highlights

  • About Lake Natron

Lake Natron In Tanzania, Africa’s Most Dangerous Water Body in Tanzania is one of the most serene lakes in Africa. This body of water is one of the most inhospitable areas on Earth. This bright red lake is the world’s most caustic body of water that also turns animals into stone.

An endemic species of fish, the alkaline tilapia, lives along the edges of the hotspring inlets, and the lake actually derives its color from salt-loving microorganisms that thrive in its alkaline waters.

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About Lake Natron In Tanzania 

Lake Natron Tanzania' Africa's Most Dangerous Water Body

Lake Natron In Tanzania is a salt or soda lake in Arusha Region. The alkaline water in Lake Natron has a pH as high as 10.5 and is so caustic it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren’t adapted to it. The water’s alkalinity comes from the sodium carbonate and other minerals that flow into the lake from the surrounding hills.

Deposits of sodium carbonate — which was once used in Egyptian mummification — also acts as a fantastic type of preservative for those animals unlucky enough to die in the waters of Lake Natron.

The lake reaches hellish temperatures and is nearly as basic as ammonia. Although most human settlements throughout history have formed around lakes and rivers, the barren landscape around Lake Natron tells a clear story of a place no one ever wanted to live.

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Lake Natron In Tanzania is also significant and regular breeding site in East Africa for three quarters of Lesser Flamingos in the world. Lesser Flamingo is classified as Near Threatened by BirdLife on the IUCN Red List. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES and on Appendix II of the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species.

The ecosystem supports the pastoral livelihoods of the local communities and is an important habitat for other wildlife species – elephant, buffalo, hyena, lion, Oryx among others.

The flamingos are a source of income through tourism for Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. With an income of half a million US dollars at Lake Natron alone, the community livelihoods would be negatively affected if a soda ash plant would be constructed near the lake.

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Lake Natron  Resources

Tata Chemicals Ltd in Collaboration with the Government of Tanzania had put forward proposals to build a large-scale industrial plant worth $450 million to extract soda ash from Lake Natron In Tanzania, via a network of pipes across the surface of the lake. A new road and rail infrastructure would be built to serve the soda ash plant.  The project would use brine from the Lake to make sodium bicarbonate which is used for various industrial purposes.

As a result from pressure, Tata Chemicals Ltd withdrew from the project in May 2008. The government of Tanzania however continues to maintain a keen interest in the soda ash project.


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