I am sure you read that topic twice to see whether you got the name right. That was me two years ago. I, too, did not know of Lake Ol’ Bolossat until a friend educated me on the same. It embarrasses me to say this, given my self-proclamation as a nature lover and hopeful conservationist. Lake Ol’ Bolossat lies elegantly between the Aberdare Ranges and Dundori Ridge. Intense human activities, at some point, threatened the lake’s existence until the law came to its rescue. But why should Lake Ol’ Bolossat concern you? Here are my six reasons.
1. Unique Natural Feature
Did you know that Lake Ol’ Bolossat is the only lake in Nyandarua County and Central region at large? That is such a massive responsibility for just one lake. Springs, marshes, and the rich Central Highland forests keep the lake fed as it then gives its waters to other smaller outlets. As a result, Lake Ol’ Bolossat is a freshwater lake. Its solitude makes it an essential feature for both human beings and wildlife living within its reach.
2. Feeds Major Watersheds
Lake Ol’ Bolossat is very important because it feeds principle water resources such as the great Ewaso Nyiro River and the Thompson falls. Can you imagine what would happen if the lake dried up? Ewaso Nyiro is among the most critical rivers in Kenya. It quenches the dry earth as it traverses across Laikipia, Isiolo, and Marsabit, before flowing into Somalia. The river also feeds Thompson falls, which is an essential tourist attraction and water source for the people of Nyahururu and its environs. Lake Ol’ Bolossat is thus crucial for sustaining other vital water resources.
3. Important Bird Area
Lake Ol’ Bolossat stands as the 61st Important Bird Area in Kenya, together with other areas such as the Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Aberdare Mountains, among others. The lake houses up to 300 different bird species, the majority of which as transit birds. The birds fancy this lake as a suitable stopover because of its isolated location. While some use it just for rest, others breed and multiply here before moving on. Some of the abundant birds found in this lake include the Grey Crowned Crane and the Yellow-beaked Egyptian Goose. A fascinating fact on the same topic is that Lake Ol’ Bolossat carries the highest number of the Grey Crowned Crane in Kenya at any time. You can count up to 1000 individuals, especially during their mating season. The cranes not only breed but also lay on their eggs around the lake’s marsh.
4. Wildlife Diversity
Lake Ol’ Bolossat does not only house birds, but it is also home to a significant number of hippopotamus families and numerous fish species, not to mention smaller water animals. Although the area does not have wild animals such as lions or cheetahs, there are random sightings of zebras and gazelles.
5. Source of Water and Livelihood
Both animals and human beings rely on the lake for their existence. The local fishermen attest to the abundance of catfish in the lake, which they sell to the local markets to get income. Lake Ol’ Bolossat also provides water for agriculture and other domestic uses, which keeps the region functioning correctly.
6. Protected by Kenyan Law
On January 28, 2015, the then Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Professor Judi Wakhungu made Lake Ol’ Bolossat a Wetland Protected Area. She also kept the lake under the protection of Kenyan law in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Service and National Lands Commission. All rights and titles to the land held by private individuals or institutions became invalid. Professor Judi described the biodiversity of Lake Ol’ Bolossat as ‘awesome’ and vowed to keep it in a flourishing state. She made this commitment after the lake almost went into extinction thanks to uncontrolled exploitation
Although not well known, Lake Ol’ Bolossat is more critical than most people realize. Its strategic location makes it vital for the continuance of watersheds such as Ewaso Nyiro and Thompson Falls, not to mention the other minor rivers and streams. Lake Ol’ Bolossat also sustains a significant number of wildlife and birds. It might not be as big as its other lake sisters, but Lake Ol’ Bolossat is essential and necessary for Nyandarua’s biodiversity. I hope you get to see it in the same light when you get a chance to visit.